Editor’s Note: Missio Alliance is partnering with eleven:28 Ministries to provide Lenten meditations entitled “You Are My Witnesses: A Spiritual Journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter,” by Amy Bost Henegar. These reflections began on Ash Wednesday and culminate today, Easter Sunday. We invite you to set aside 10 minutes or so to move through the meditation below. You can listen to the podcast versions here and/or read along with the edited transcription below. We are grateful to eleven:28 for sharing this resource with the Missio Alliance community and pray that it has been a blessing for you this Lenten season.
Remind yourself you are in God’s presence.
Notice how God may be speaking to you today.
Let yourself dwell on a word or phrase that catches your attention or moves your heart.
Let your heart respond to God in prayer.
Please repeat these words:
Open my heart to you, Lord,
And my mouth will declare your praise.
Take a minute to notice your breath.
Observe the shifting of breath and energy in your body.
Notice how God is breathing life into you at this very moment.
You are right now, in this moment, receiving the gift of breath.
As you inhale, feel the energy of God lift you up, and as you exhale return to gravity, in grounded vocation of service in this world.
Just rest in this space for a moment. Observing your breath, offering your thoughts and feelings to God without trying to control or change anything.
A Reading from John 20
Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.
Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.
Mary stays at the tomb, deep in grief. Tears flooding down from her eyes. Her face cast down. The grief so heavy that she can’t even look around.
She hears a voice but doesn’t look up. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone. She just wants to stay in this place. The closest place she can find to Jesus, who is now gone. She just wants to stay in this place, in her grief, and not talk to anyone.
“Why are you crying?”
She’s crying because there’s nothing else she can do. Grief stops the world from moving, and we sit in pain inside silence—wishing we could escape the truth, wishing we could escape the reality, but so painfully aware that we can’t.
“Why are you crying?”
She doesn’t look up until she hears her name. “Mary.” And she recognizes the voice when he says her name, “Mary.”
She hears her name and lifts her eyes from her sorrow and sees his face.
What she is seeing is beyond her wildest imagination, yet it is true. There he is, flesh and bones, face and voice, that she recognizes.
Death has been defeated and her grief has been turned to joy.
She jumps up to hug him. Of course! And he says, “Don’t hold on to me.” The work that God is doing is still going on. It’s not over. And we all have a road to travel in front of us.
So don’t hold on to me in an effort to freeze this moment, in an effort to stop time. “Don’t hold on to me.” There is work to do God’s work is being done. God’s work is continuing. And you have a part to play. Go tell everyone what you have seen and what you have heard, and I will be with you always. Always.
“Benediction” by Ann Weems
Go now with faithful stamina into your courtyards
To answer whether you know him or not.
Go knowing that he who said, follow me, will stand with you.
Go knowing that when you falter, he will hold you up.
Go knowing that when you fail, he will forgive you.
Go knowing that when you say “I know this Jesus,”
you will dance with the Angels on Easter morning.
May you know the peace of faithfulness,
The joy of community,
And the love of grace.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.