Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Sweetest Word (For Pascha, Easter Sunday)

Alleluia. All Lent, we have hidden this word from our liturgy in the Anglican Church. We have thanked God, cried Hosanna, prayed for mercy and forgiveness. In the solemn devotions before the Cross on Good Friday, we weep with the women as we watch the body of our Lord laid in the tomb. 

We have hidden Alleluia in the grave clothes and placed Alleluia on the Cross. On Good Friday we prayed this collect:

 Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set
your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and
our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and
grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy
Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life
and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you
live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

We pray that the Cross would stand between our soul and judgment, that we would be covered in His blood, that we would know mercy and grace and everlasting life. Our prayers have been clinging to the Cross, to the act of love and sacrifice, to the moment of light in darkness. And with Mary and the women, we have gone to the tomb without an Alleluia, without the exclamation of Easter hope. 

And this morning I stand with Mary at the tomb, distraught at the mystery. How devastating it must have been! All the promises of eternal life and all the hope of glorious Alleluias, and she can't stop crying, because she cannot find him. Where has God gone? The sun has risen and the tomb is empty. Where is Jesus? 

"Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
   “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
  He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
   Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “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 toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”)."

(John 20. 11-16)

The sweetest word - Mary - is the moment of recognition. She must have fallen over, stumbled on the realization of the greater mystery. The Lord, who journeyed to the cross and into death, who collapsed into death so that we might live again - He stands before her, alive. And tenderly, He calls her name, Mary. Can you hear Him call your name too? Hilary, He says. And the sweetest word - Alleluia - can ring clear into the sunrise, into the new day. 

Today with Mary, we turn our weeping into the cry of recognition, into the cry of Easter praise. Because behold, it is Jesus! 

Sing the Alleluia with me in the bright beams of this morning. 


O God, who for our redemption didst give thine
only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his
glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of
our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may
evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through
Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth
with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

1 comment:

  1. Truly, that He speaks our names is a mystery. That simple word, Suzanne, spoken by the God of the Universe, changes my heart and makes all things miraculous. And He desires to, face to face, speak each person's name to them.
    Thank you for this beautiful post, Hilary!


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