“I have seen the Lord!”
If Mary Magdalene were to share her faith story that’s one of the things she would share: “I have seen the Lord.” Mary Magdalene is one of the people who saw the risen Christ, and not only did she see him, but she had a conversation with him, and he called her by name.
When we think of someone sharing his or her faith story, we may think of moments like Mary’s and having a specific moment in time that you can point to when you saw Jesus or you heard God talking to you. We often equate with certainty, joy, and everything working out all right, but that’s not how every faith story unfolds. In fact, Mary Magdalene’s faith story isn’t completely filled with certainty, joy, and everything working out all right.
For Mary Magdalene that first Easter Sunday is filled with grief, panic, and people (the disciples) who question her faith. With Jesus’ death, Mary’s world collapsed and like other mourners she takes part in the custom of her day by going to Jesus’ grave to pay her respects by anointing Jesus’ lifeless body. At the tomb Mary encounters the impossible and improbable. The tomb is empty. The body is gone. Grief quickly changes to panic at the thought that someone has stolen Jesus’ body. Her mind can’t compute the fact that the reason Jesus isn’t there is because he is alive. Even though Mary sees the best things she could possibly see, an empty tomb, she doesn’t shout “Alleluia.” She doesn’t exclaim “Jesus is risen.” Instead Mary sees the empty tomb and assumes the worst: someone has stolen the body.
Many of our life stories and faith stories include times when we have assumed the worst, when we have been filled with fear, doubt and even panic. Like Mary, our stories are not always filled with joy and alleluias. And yet even when our lives are overcome by fear and doubt or panic and sorrow, God is still at work in our lives. God in Jesus reaches out to Mary and reveal his presence. And God is at work in our lives, reaching out to us and revealing his presence. Sometimes it’s through a feeling of peace and calm. Other times it’s an experience that we just can’t quite put into words. Some times it’s through the words and actions of another person that God’s living presence is made known to us.
God is at work in each of our lives, but what that looks like differs from person to person. During the season of Lent we have had different congregation members share parts of their faith story with the confirmation students. We do this as a way to help the students discover that God’s presence in a person’s life takes on may different shapes and forms. Sometimes people may think that their own faith story is lacking because it’s not as dramatic as Mary Magdalene’s, but each of our stories and experiences are important to God because each one of us is important to God. As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this year know that Jesus was raised from the dead for you and that is part of your story.