12 April 2009

Mary's Moment

There are moments that change everything. We amble along in our lives and suddenly our course is forever altered. Moments can be much anticipated as when a child is born, or arise spontaneously when a seemingly inconcequential decision made. One little choice propels us in a new direction. It doesn't even have to be our choice. Someone else's choice to lie or cheat may rob us of the future we hoped for or the security we think we need. It happens suddenly and without our permission. Moments that cause unspeakable joy elevate us above our greatest hopes or just as quickly, our expectations become little more than premeditated disappointments.

There are moments of my life I remember with pain, wonder and amazement. That's what life is about; moments that sneak up and hold you captive. Moments that force you to acknowledge the sure bliss, joy, terror and interminable grief that occurs in a blink of an eye, the utterance of a syllable or the touch of a hand. If you have ever lost someone you love then you know what I am talking about. It doesn't matter if they were sick for years or killed in a freak accident, learning of the death of a loved one is a moment that changes you forever.

Today as I sat in church I was overcome with emotion. I sat before the service pensively considering what Mary Madalene must have thought as she made her way to Jesus' tomb. She was His devoted servent and had been delivered of evil spirits. History has branded her as a prostitute and she may have been, but there's no proof of that in Scripture. I asked myself, just how brave did she have to be put her grief aside and go to where her beloved Jesus' body had been laid to rest? Did she place one foot in front of the other fearing what she would find? Did her loyalty to him keep her from dreading the smell of death and decay that she knew would greet her, probably before she ever entered the tomb? Did the anticipation of how beaten and scarred he was make her wonder if she could stand to look at his lifeless and brutalized body? Was her devotion and love for him so strong that it held her natural aversion and disgust in check?

I can only begin to imagine what it was for her to go bid her final farewell by dutifully preparing his putrefying body with oil and spices. It was the last and final time she could spend with him. Did all that was repugnant about doing this fade into nothingness when compared to her honor and privilege to be among the last to leave him forever? What shock and disbelief could she have felt when she arrived to find the tomb empty? Did she wonder who could have done such a despicable thing as to steal his body? Did she fear they were desecrating his remains in one final and foul way to prove their disapproval of Him? Did she think they were humilating him in death too?

I am certain Mary could not have anticipated the real life changing moment that was about to come. She probably thought it had already come when they crucified her Jesus. I can scarcely imagine her grief and despair while going to the tomb but how can I begin to imagine that I know what emotions first flooded her when the one she served's body was not there. How much more grief can flood in to fill a vacuum like that? And then it happened, the real life changing moment occurred. So caught up in her grief she nearly missed it. Jesus, whom she loved and served called her name. She was so focused on the way things appeared, so focused on her pain she thought he was the gardener, but He called her name. She was called by name. What a moment that must have been for Mary. What a moment it is for all who have been called.

Christ the Lord is risen today.

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