Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
And we are risen with Christ! (as the Collect says “we live with him in the joy of the resurrection!”)
As my husband likes to say, Jesus wins!
The powers of darkness, injustice, deception, and oppression do not get the last word…
This is the Good News of the Gospel.
In this Topsy Turvey World, we hold onto the story of Jesus that tops everything and turns everything on its head.
The powers of darkness tried to eradicate the healing message of Jesus, but the message was planted and the Good News has endured for centuries.
As the psalmist sings:
“The Same stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone!”
Forgiveness, Peace, Love and Mercy, these powers are stronger than death because they are everlasting. Resurrection is not about one person named Jesus. Resurrection is about community one person at a time.
Today in our story, it is Mary who shows us a way into this greater understanding of what resurrection means for all of us. She has just spent two nights in the worst throws of grief. But she also models for us a deep relationship with God, a relationship we attain to.
Mary is the only disciple who follows Jesus from the beginning of his ministry all the way through his death and into the resurrected Christ. Her presence is made known throughout his ministry.
She is the one they say was “healed of seven demons.”Mary’s healing by Jesus sets her on a spiritual journey. Jesus brought her back into community by healing her, recognizing her.
Mary helps to show us what a spiritual path looks like…
And yet! In this passage, Mary doesn’t recognize the risen Jesus at first and confuses him for the gardener. This momentary blindness in the face of grief is actually not so unusual. We walk through a fog when we are grieving.
It is part of the process of healing that we begin to see things anew and frame things anew.
A deep and penetrating loss has the potential to open us up completely. And Mary’s walk with Jesus helps us see the hope and the meaning of this awakening for a transformed community.
Yes, Easter comes at spring time when the earth is renewed. We see new life spring! But our story with Jesus is not simply a metaphor for spring… it is about transformation for a loving world.
But here we are in the throws of Grief, or in the tumultuous chaotic world of indifference, we like Mary may not recognize Jesus.
Not until we are called by name, like her…. and that is when she turns! That is when we may be healed, re-oriented to the loving source.
When someone knows us so deeply, or when someone affirms us, recognizes us - we are healed.
As part of our walk with Christ we allow ourselves to turn like Mary to the Spirit reorienting ourselves to the source and we become more fully our whole selves.
As first century bishop Iraneus famously said, “The Glory of God is a human being fully alive!”
Mary’s recognition of God’s voice (Rabbouni/teacher) represents her awakening. It may be the first time she recognizes that she is Loved by the Spirit of God!
Painfully, Jesus says “Do not hold onto me” (translated also as “Don’t cling to me,” “Don’t touch me”). Jesus says “I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Jesus seems to be saying that he is in a transitional state.
But this command from Jesus is more than just about his transitional state. Her faith to go on to tell the story represents that this moment in the garden is precisely about their transitional state.
It is relational. It is about the relationship between God and Mary (as well as about us and our relationship with God).
Mary in the garden experiences for the first time,
Jesus the man, Christ the Crucified God, and the Holy Spirit acting as One.
Through this story, Mary is the first to encounter this three dimensional aspect of God we call the Trinity.
Yet, Don’t cling to me he says…“What Jesus is really doing is redirecting Mary’s desire for union with himself from his physical or earthly body… to …his presence in the world, that is, the community of his brothers and sisters, the disciples.” (us) 
Mary Magdalene’s witness and her prophetic voice, “I have seen the Lord” is all intended for the sake of the community.
Like John the Baptist, she participates in the prophetic tradition. She becomes the voice that directs us to the risen Christ: to the incarnation that is not merely conceptual but can be acted out through mercy and love in new patterns for communal relationship. 
In this Gospel, Mary came to the tomb while it was still dark. In another version, she sits vigil across from the tomb, and still in another she shows up with other women and spices to dress the body… Mary Magdalene models for us what it means to abide in the dark times of our lives and the willingness to make that abiding journey through to the dawn and expectation of resurrection and new life.
Mary stands in this place with the risen Christ, a place we all long to stand in. It is the place we also wish to touch… And we do this ritualistically every Sunday when we take communion. When we take communion we recognize that we are seeking to join in the union of that forgiving God, that loving humanity, and that life-giving spirit in company with others.
Sharing this Trinitarian understanding of God begins to set new patterns for community based in forgiveness and healing.
“To abide in love with others is to live together in a community that works to overcome alienation and isolation, individualism and hierarchy.” 
In this wold today, that is really Good News. Aleluia!
Thank you to the following authors who helped lend language and depth to my inquiry:
1. Schneiders, “John 20:11-18: The Encounter of the Easter Jesus with Mary Magdalene – A Transformative Feminist Reading,” 164-165.
2. McIntosh, Discernment and Truth, 148.
3. Amy-Jill Levine, Marianne Blickenstaff, and Dorothy Lee,“Abiding in the Fourth Gospel: A Case Study in Feminist Biblical Theology,” 75.
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The Rev. Heather K. Sisk