How was Easter just last Sunday?
I don’t know about you but for me the emotion, the pace and even the struggle of my Lent discipline feel many moons ago this week . . . as do the moments of singing with gusto “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” and “Christ, the Lord is Risen Today!”
But because Easter is a season of the year not just one day, I’m trying to stick with the texts for a just a little bit longer this year.
Though I went with the Luke text for my sermon, I love the John’s telling of story too.
In John 20, Jesus meets Mary Magdalene at tomb crying, calls her by name, and she believes instantly that her Teacher is alive.
Then Jesus says to her something that startles me as a reader every time: “Do not hold on to me!”
One commentator describes how interpretations through the ages have tried to understand these words:
“They range from the absurd (Jesus’ wounds were still sore) to the fanciful (Having heard of the Eucharistic meal, Mary was wanting Jesus to serve her Holy Communion) to the risqué (Jesus’ risen body was naked, so touching was inappropriate!).”
But out of Jesus’ mouth, we hear this explanation of his response to Mary saying: “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father.”
Or Jesus wasn’t finished with his resurrection work. There would be more people to see and meet!
Let me stop here and let you know how I want to protest!
Doesn’t Mary deserve all the face time she wants? Hasn’t she been through enough drama? Did Jesus really have to say that to her? (Bottom line: I want my Jesus to be gentler to sad Mary’s soul).
But what powerful words these are: “Do not hold on to me!”
The more I’ve thought about them, the more I realize there wasn’t any better thing for Jesus to say.
How many times do you and I live with fists clenched onto what we have and to what we know?
How many times do we find ourselves attached to relationships that are nothing more than a security blanket?
How many times do we find something “that works” in our businesses or churches and just want to do over and over? (Hey, if it succeeded in the past, then I’m sure it will work again, right?)
But to all of this, our resurrected Lord says to us as he did to Mary that day, “Do not hold on to me!”
Jesus says let GO of the grand moment. Let GO of the people keep you stuck.
Let GO of the doctrines that we would keep you here at the tomb crying (and there’s tons of these aren’t there?)
Most of all, our Teacher continued to teach. He says resurrection is a living thing! If it moves, we move. If it dances, we dance. If it re-arranges our schedules, we rearrange!
As much as any of us think we understand God, the purpose of our life, or even think we’re “too old” to make any big changes, Jesus says let me show you the world from my resurrected lens.
In the kingdom of God, nothing ever stays the same! Nothing.
And while the actual resurrection event is a great one, resurrection is a verb.
It’s dipping our toes into all the great unknowns. It’s springing wide our doors to new possibilities. It’s the best work in fact. The work that has the ability to bring more life to our souls, our homes or our churches more than a blow out Easter day celebration ever could!
So, thank you Jesus for telling Mary to “Not hold on to me.” Thank you for telling us the same. For if we just stayed put with you at the tomb, we’d miss out on the adventures you want to give us! Keep us moving, Lord. Keep us moving.