by the Rev. Jim Purdy, Assisting Priest

Momentous news…

Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.

(The Gospel according to John 20: 2-3)

Momentous news for one isn’t necessarily momentous news for another. Signing MLB contracts: Seattle Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano signed a $240 million contract for ten years, and New York Yankees’ infielder Dean Anna signed for $500,000 for 2014. Big news for one isn’t necessarily big news for another.

First century Jerusalem barely stirred on that morning we now call “Easter.” In fact, the news that Mary Magdalene spread had little impact beyond a small cluster of friends. What changed Jerusalem and spread to “the ends of the earth” was not the resurrection event itself.  It was people talking about the event.

It was Peter, standing up after the Day of Pentecost to tell his people what he had seen — a tomb empty of everything but God’s mystery. It was Paul, telling people in Asia Minor and beyond what happened to him on a dusty road near Damascus. It was a word, spreading from person to person. When other people saw the lives of believers changing and heard their story, they came to the tomb and saw for themselves.  A word, passed from mouth to ear to mouth.

*   *   *

Placed deep within each of us is a need to hear such word of mouth and to tell others. At a level that often catches us by surprise, we yearn for tangible signs of love, light, life — of God’s victory over hatred, darkness and death. When we see a glorious full moon or a spectacular sunrise, we turn to someone and say, “Wow!  Look at THAT!” Think of the many times we begin a conversation by whispering, “Hey! Have you heard?”

Some of what we pass along is trivial and ephemeral. Some of what we pass along is gossip. But, as Mary Magdalene showed, some word of mouth is actually word of heart, word of awe, word of life. This word of mouth touches deeply. It changes lives.

*   *   *

The longer I am privileged to live, the more I am convinced that we are created with a hunger to know our Creator. We are born with a hunger to know God. Every now and then, some thing satisfies that hunger, and we rush to tell other people. Even when they don’t respond with equivalent joy, we fulfill something in our selves when we catch a glimpse of God and say, “Look at THAT!”

*   *   *

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”

It’s not much of a story when we come right down to it, and that is, of course, the power of it. It doesn’t have the ring of great drama. It has the ring of truth. It speaks of life the way it is — the un-imaginable happens: God is still rolling stones away from the tombs that hold people in death; God is watering the desert, dropping manna and birds in the wilderness; grace, kindness, mercy, compassion, hope, among us, every day. Beauty transcends ugliness. Love overcomes hatred. Faith transforms fear. Life overcomes death, every day. God-given power breaks into our world. It changes it. It shapes it.

Easter. It’s not much of a story. But it IS a story, a story that you and I can tell. And, sometimes, to tell it, we may choose to use words.

  Open our minds and our understanding, O God,
            that we may see through the pictures and the language of our faith
            to its meaning and significance.

           Then, as we move through the troubled streets of life, O God,
            may our lives be lifted up to heights unknown,
          raised with your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.




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