See Mary weeping, “Where is He laid?”
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
Last week in church, I wasn’t feeling it.
I don’t think that’s particularly unusual, at least, it’s not for me.
I was distracted (and hot) and, honestly, I’m not sure I could tell you even a main topic from the sermon.
But we sang this song at the end of the service, this old hymn that was a little too happy-clappy for me on that sleepy Sunday morning, until we got to this verse.
I’ve written about this moment in scripture before, but singing about it on Sunday the beauty and sorrow and hope of this story hit me full in the chest.
God actually died. Sometimes it feels to me like God is distant or difficult to understand, like maybe he might be dead.
But Mary’s God… he actually died. She watched it happen. She had walked close to him, had touched him, and watched him serve and love and do miracles. And then she watched him die, and three days later he was still dead.
So she was mourning. Naturally. He was her friend, her teacher, her Lord. Of course she was crying, of course she was by the tomb, and of course the gardener would start to bother her.
Because that’s what happens when God feels far away.
We feel sorry for ourselves, for the world, even. We go back to where we last found God, where he was last real and alive, where we think we might find some remnant of him to worship and remember. And then well-meaning people start to bother us.
They ask questions about why we’re upset and what we’re looking for and where we’re hoping to find it and it is so annoying because what we’re looking for has died, he’s dead and now he’s missing, can’t you see?
It certainly doesn’t feel like the annoying people might be the One that we’re looking for.
This story does not end with Mary annoyed at the gardener. Some days, it feels like where the story ends, that the annoyed and sad days of loss will never end, that God is dead and gone and all hopes of resurrection died with him.
But Jesus calls Mary’s name.
He calls Mary’s name and she knows, because we recognize our shepherd’s voice.
He doesn’t explain, doesn’t apologize, doesn’t chastise.
He simply calls her name.
And she doesn’t hesitate.
In the midst of questions and doubt and a broken world, it’s easy to identify with crying Mary wondering where her savior has gone.
It seems like creation is splitting in two rather than being restored.
Yet sometimes you’re reminded that the risen one who declared this earth Good by coming to be a part of it, he calls your name and you know his voice.
In fact, the whole earth knows his voice.
May we see the restored earth responding to its Saviors call. And may we wait expectantly for the call to come, even when he’s been gone for more than three days.
Photo by Darren Johnson via Flickr.