I’ve been meditating and thinking about John’s account of the resurrection, which is the appointed Gospel text for Easter Sunday (John 20:1-18). I find John’s account fascinating, particularly because at first, rather than angels proclaiming that Jesus is not there but is risen, we have an empty tomb, with all of the thoughts, fears, and uncertainties that goes along with that. Peter and John show up, and we get a hint that perhaps John is on to something, but the disciples soon leave to go home.
But there is something particular about Mary. Mary stayed around for a bit, mourning the absence of Jesus’ body. Angels do show up, but they don’t explain what was going on, they simply ask her why she’s weeping. She turns around, and sees a fellow who simply asks her why she is weeping, and for whom she is looking. It is only when Jesus calls Mary by name that she recognizes him. This of course brings to mind, John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (NRSV).
Mary was given a gift that the other disciples did not yet receive: an experience with seeing the resurrected Jesus. It was after she had this experience with Jesus that he sent her to others to tell them what she had seen. I find it significant that Mary tarried there for a bit, she spent some more time in the moment and this allowed her to be the first person to lay eyes on Jesus after his resurrection. It was only after this period of being, after this experience with Jesus that she was sent out to do something, to tell others what she had experienced. There is an incredible importance of being that we lose out on when we place such an importance on doing.
I have been asking myself, had I been there, would I have stuck around? Would I have the ability to stay at the empty tomb wondering if someone took Jesus’ body to defile it, or if grave robbers have taken it? Would I have been able to stare at the empty tomb and remain in the moment for a bit longer? My answer would be, probably not. However, in not sticking around, not spending time in the moment, I would likely miss the first glimpse of the risen Christ. This makes me wonder how many other times I miss Christ’s presence in the world because I don’t stick around long enough to experience it.
“Being” always leads to “doing”, however, one cannot fully “do” without first “being”. This is just as difficult for a pastor than for everyone else, that we must first spend time “being”. We need to simply be with God, experience the moment, mourn when we need to mourn, and celebrate when we need to celebrate. Perhaps in doing so, we have have an intimate experience that brings immense hope and joy, and witness the very thing that we thought impossible.