“Early 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.”
April 18, 2022, Words By: Rev. Sarah Wiles, Image By: Wayne Forte
Early in the morning, on the first day, God said let there be light. And there was light. And it was good. Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. It didn’t seem good, though. There was no light. All was dark. Mary came to grieve. She came to a tomb, a place of death.
And Mary found the stone had been rolled away. The stone, that heavy, immovable boundary between the garden of the living, and the tomb of the dead—had been rolled away.
The world has never been the same. Mary was never the same. Did she know that? As she ran, heart pounding, breathless, to tell the others, did she know that it was a day like that first day, when God created not just light, but morning?
The disciples race back with her. Had the sun begun to rise by then? Is that why they stuck their heads in where Mary hadn’t dared? Something had happened. He was gone. Where death and decay were supposed to be there was only absence.
The other two leave. Mary stays to weep. We know how the story ends, but she only knows that the last vestige of the one she has learned from, followed, and believed in has disappeared. All that is left is for her to weep, as Jesus once wept at a grave.
And then, still early, on that morning, the first day of the week, before the dew had burned off the grass, Jesus comes to her. The one who was dead, the one who had been defeated, the one who was gone—this Jesus, comes to her.
But she does not know him. Did he look different? Did tears cloud her vision? She is so very brokenhearted. And then, in that moment of deepest darkness, as the dawn broke, he called her name: Mary. And she turned and knew him.
This is still how it happens. This is how we meet Jesus. Our name is called.
It’s not a matter of having all the facts laid out in front of us. It’s not a matter of reading the evidence correctly, or praying the right prayers, of being in the right place, or doing the right thing.
No. It comes early in the morning, or sometimes very late at night, on the first day of the week—whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday or a Sunday, when new life breaks in, it’s always the first day of the week. Often it comes while we are a mess, hair askew, face streaked with tears, standing in the midst of brokenness, totally lost.
This is how Jesus comes to us: he calls our name. He is our shepherd. He knows your name, just as he knew Mary’s. And not just our names, but our very selves—inside and out, secrets and shames, the contours of our scars and the wounds that have never healed, our deepest hopes and our fears, the darkness and the light that lives within—all of it he knows and loves.
And he comes to us, when we are trapped by death, trapped by all that chokes out life, trapped by a stone that stands between us and the garden of life. He comes to us, walks with us, and calls us by name.
In a still small voice, in the voice of a friend or stranger, in the songs of choirs like angels, or the raucous noise of a party, in the glory of God’s good green earth, in every language and every tongue, he comes to us and calls us by name—the way he called out, that first morning, very early, on the first day of the week, Mary! And we turn and see: he is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Dwelling Among Us
Jesus still calls our name. How do you hear him today? What new word of life is being spoken to you?