But Mary stood weeping. Have you ever thought of all the ways that you end up crying? Sometimes, it’s because you laugh so hard that tears just come. Or maybe you watch a movie with a happy ending that makes you cry, because you’re just so overcome with joy. Or you hear a song on the radio that reminds you of old friends. Or maybe you cry because you’re alone, worried, scared and sad. We cry for many reasons. Throughout Scripture, people weep. There is weeping in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, the Psalms, and many others. Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus. The daughters of Jerusalem wept. And Mary Magdalene weeps.
The angels ask Mary, “why are you weeping”. She is alone and deeply grieved. She had stood at the foot of the cross and watched as her friend and teacher was crucified. She is scared. Maybe some of those who persecuted Jesus have stolen his body from the tomb. If so, what challenges might the disciples have to face soon? This moment of standing in front of the empty tomb, alone and afraid, must have been very overwhelming.
But then, a voice calls out to her…a voice that she at first doesn’t recognize. A voice that calls out her name—“Mary”. Why she doesn’t recognize Jesus at first has always been a mystery. Is he somehow transformed in bodily appearance due to the resurrection? Is it just the shear shock of seeing someone who was believed dead to be alive? Had she wept until her eyes were swollen shut? Scholars and theologians don’t know.
Let’s think about Baptism for a moment. Baptism in its most literal form is an initiation into Christian living. It is a remembrance that we die to our old life and are raised new in the life of Christ. But let’s look at the parts of the Baptism rite. We are washed clean. We are given a candle to remind us of the light of Christ. We are given a name and called a child of God.
Maybe this moment in the garden by the tomb was Mary’s baptism. Her tears wash her clean. Her old life as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth is dead. Her new life as a disciple of the Risen Christ is just beginning…this is the light of Christ within. She is called by name—Mary—and recognizes who it is that calls her…God incarnate, Jesus Christ.
Holy Week is an emotional one. We have prayed, confessed, fasted, grieved, and wept. But now, we weep no more. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed!
I don't know what the future of the church is, but I know that we will continue to be a place of sanctuary and hope, working towards healing in the world.