April 2, 2016 – Saint John’s Episcopal Church – Memphis Tennessee
Resurrection never crossed Mary’s mind in the dark deserted streets. The garden, very near the place, called skull, where Jesus was nailed, then hoisted on a rough-hewn cross, its splinters almost the size of the nails in his feet. She barely remembered walking from the cross beside the Aristocrat Joseph, who generously rescued Jesus from a common grave, and Nicodemus, a Senator, as the two men, their aides and servants carried the dead weight through the blooming grove, toward the manicured lawns surounding Joseph’s new tomb.
She shifted the heavy jar of myrrh in her arms. Myrrh’s complex earthy scent, hinting of foreign lands, was universally used at burial. Its strong odor was useful at such times. Smell, evokes the most vivid memories. Ever after, the faintest whiff and Mary was in the garden, the stars, dimming at the hint of dawn in the East, as she neared the tomb.
The men had carefully rolled the round stone into its slot across the entrance. She saw them do it. There is a dark hole where the tan stone should be. His body, limbs out of socket, limp as a worn out rag, covered with blood, was gone. The great stone rolled aside, witness to the absence of tortured remains. She hurdled heedless of feet in the dawn to warn his men that some ghoulish mischief had befallen his body. Romans do not disturb the dead. Nor, Jews, usually. Who would rob a grave on Passover?
Resurrection never crossed the minds of the men huddled by the fire, hiding from the mighty whose henchmen might be searching at that very moment. They flinched at the door knock.
Resurrection never crossed the minds of the two as they left the others walking quickly, suddenly running like school boys; John, the younger by over a decade ran as the young run sprinting ahead only to wait, a quick glance, hesitating, while Peter, as Peter would, barged right in. John followed. The burial clothes of thin linen bands, wrapped in haste; adequately, were quickly finished before Passover sundown.
The burial clothes were more than there; they lay as if Jesus simply vanished, evaporated rising right through them as they collapsed neatly onto themselves in a way, not to be faked. Oddly, the head cloth neatly folded lay near the wrappings, testifying to subtle divine presence.
Ressurection crossed John’s mind and he believed.
Suddenly, hideous events on Friday were made new sense, aroused suspicions of glory and strange saying of Jesus were strange no more. His absence translated by hope become coherent to ears that listen, ears that hear.
They departed slowly, thoughtfully – wondering if this meant what they thought it meant, unsure but with small bright potential joy in their hearts where before was only despair.
A movement peripheral, a man, [only a gardener would stir so early,]. Passing through the hedge, Mary, voice breaking inquired of grave-robbers … “Mary,” and she knew his voice; it was he, the one who said his sheep know my voice, and saying her name called her clear as ever. Resignation fell away, not as amnesia forgets, but remembering with power a greater vision, redeemed by holy intervention.
She grabbed him, weak with vertigo as deep grief leapt into singular joy in a single bound. Gently, he loosed her hands, telling her he had not yet ascended to his Father; an entirely different order of homecoming, embraced by the peculiar, mystical love of the Godhead.
She must let him go, not for loss this time but for gain, gain for all, for all time. The spare, precise truth, brought Mary and all who will ever believe to his God and their God and his Father and their Father.
Resurrection had never crossed Mary’s mind until she met Resurrection face to face and it was ENOUGH.
Resurrection never crossed our minds in the tyranny of the immediate. I-phones, e-mails, constant litter of data: important to nobody but forwarded by somebody to everybody.
Resurrection never crossed our minds in the routine of sameness, body tired, minds fuzzy with the demands of a new day, while the old day, it’s red-flagged emails, all caps, shouting, invades the new day.
Resurrection never crossed our minds even in the Week Holy, as the world continued, the relentless, urgency of the trivial, blotting out the ultimate, flattening all affect into numbness.
We slouch into our several pews late, tired, distracted, our minds arriving minutes after our bodies dropped into a seat.
Today the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, the Queen of Feasts: This EASTER lies at the end of a long relay race beginning on that Eighth day of the Week, the day Mary went early in the dark; John and Peter came and went and Mary loitering near the cave met Jesus alive, [changed but somehow the same] – full of resurrection.
Resurrection never crossed our minds when Meister Eckhart said that the savior’s birth is always happening. But if it happens not in us what does it profit? What matters is that he be born in us.
Resurrection never crossed our minds until we, too long removed from that day encounter him who was absent then, only to be fully present for all time. Sometime, somewhere, when we finally hit the wall that defeats the best moves of our egos — when we find something we cannot fix, there we will meet Jesus and Resurrection will finally cross our minds and he will not only be born in us but resurrected as well and it will be ENOUGH!
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.