Sunday, April 8, 2012

John 20:1-18 - Recognition

As part of the Easter Sunday worship, I introduced the reading of John 20:1-18 in this way, using guidance from J. Philip Newell's Christ of the Celts.  Read it here or:

Meditation - Recognition (adapted from Christ of the Celts - Broken Cadences, pt. 2 Audio CD - apologies to Philip for poor citations - I was transcribing from audio CD)

John 20:1-18

In a moment, Louise and Gerzain will read the most wild and imaginative story you’ve ever heard.  John the evangelist’s telling of Jesus being raised from the dead...! Who’s ever heard of such a wild idea!

After they read the story, we will see a brief enactment of this story,
The choir will sing an anthem, and then we will experience the essence of the story, through the celebration of communion...

John’s story of Jesus resurrection is full of plots and subplots.
Peter and the beloved disciples’ race to the tomb...
Who gets there first? Who is the first to believe....?

Two angels inside the tomb...what do they represent?
Mary in the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses...
Why was she not able to recognize Jesus?

He calls her by name.
She falls at his feet;
he asks that she go and be a witness to what she has seen...
who says women can’t preach!?

It is to Mary Magdalene the risen Christ first appears..theirs was a cherished relationship.

She was longing for his presence...and he comes to her.  
Mary Magdalene thinks he is the gardener, which in a sense he is.
He comes from the Garden of our Origins.
He comes to nurture what is deepest in us, our beginning in God..the light within us which is of the first light God spoke into being....
It is only when he calls her by name that she recognizes him.
The Celts believe there is no such thing as a general sighting of Christ.
He appears in the intimacy of relationship...and out of our deep longings.
He comes from deep in the Garden of our Being, where each one of us is called by name.

Mary....he says..
Rabboni! She exclaims...

When is a time in your life when you felt so utterly lost and confused....full of dispair...full of longing.
And mysteriously there appeared the divine presence...the Christ...affirming you, saying your name...

There is a longing in the human soul for what is real;
for what connects with a new vision of reality in which we see that all things are interconnected.
There is a longing in the human heart for what is personal;
for what addresses the most intimate core of our being in its eternal being for love and union. There is a longing in the human spirit for what is immense; for what expands our vision further into the unboundedness of the universe.

When we hear the heartbeat of God whether in our own soul or in the heart of another...
whether in the body of creation or in the vast expanse of the cosmos...
we experience ourselves being called by name.
Our place of deepest and most personal identity is addressed.  
The voice is intimate and immense. it is both personal and vast

When we share in communion together,
I encourage those who are serving the elements to call us by name when we come forward...nametags certainly help our feeble memories :).
In so doing, it is an attempt to reenact Jesus calling Mary by name there at the empty tomb.
By calling one another by name as communion is served, we reenact the mystery of the resurrected Christ knowing us personally, intimately, and expressing his love for us...

If we allow ourselves to be called by name by the presence at the heart of every blessed thing...we will be changed, and we will discover again, that together we belong...

Let us hear now the resurrection story....

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she 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.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and 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. 13They 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.” 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” 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.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).17Jesus 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.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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