A Message from Rev. Christopher Ryan
John 20: 11 – 17
… Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher)
Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
Resurrection is viewed as the end of the Wilderness Wanderings of Lent. Resurrection normally brings with it visions of Realization and Revelation. However, this year is different. With continuing COVID-19 limitations, Easter seems just a little different than Lent. It is different, though. We have promised access to a variety of effective vaccines. We are confident that a plan is in place and the way is clear. The season of Wilderness Wandering is complete. We now enter a season of Confident Waiting.
Jesus is effectively saying to Mary, “Wait.” “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”
Doubtless, this was not what Mary expected or wanted. Clinging to Jesus, as she remembered and understood him, was an expression of her desire to Return and Remain. To “Return and Remain” implies that what was denied during the time of Wandering and Wilderness is still intact and soon everything will be familiar and recognizable, just as before. This was not to be the case. Transformation was not yet complete. In this context, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father” means, “Wait. Wilderness Wandering is complete but the work remains to be revealed”
Resurrection is joyous, but Mary could not hold on to Jesus in the way she did before. Everything has become new. The ministry and community that was will be altered by this experience. Indeed, the whole world will be transformed. Wait and see.
Easter is not just a day, it is a Season. The 50 days between Easter and Pentecost are Easter days of waiting. During these days –
- We remember what was.
- We believe what is.
- We await a Revelation of what will be.
The past year has shaped the way we do ministry. The Pandemic revealed needs and opportunities previously not considered. Some of these will remain with us. Some will represent work conceived, fulfilled and finished. Likewise, we and our world will have been changed. Easter brings us into a season of Waiting and Rest. The promised Holy Spirit will guide us on the way as we follow whatever new ways that may open up before us.