Mary Went to the Phone
April 12, 2020
Perhaps it was that my mouth outran my brain, or the other way around. Or perhaps in light of this COVID 19 shelter in place order of the day, that I actually was prescient. I stood in the parking lot at Saint Francis UMC to lead the Sunrise Service on Easter Morning. As I read from the gospel of John, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the ----wait for it---- PHONE.
I heard myself say it. Brain lapse. I hope I said something like, “I hate these new translations,” but I likely just lowered and shook my head, mortified that I had screwed up the most glorious reading of the whole story of Jesus. I still shake my head when I think about it. People still remember this Sunrise Reading of the story of the Resurrection. I usually am reminded about it at this time of the year. “Where is Mary going this year? Is Mary still going to the phone?”
Actually this year, 2020, when physical distancing is necessary, going to the phone or the iPad is probably a good idea for Mary and all of us. Many pastors, musicians, Bishops and other church leaders will be filling the cyber sphere and the Internet with the Good News that Christ is Risen. One will need only to scroll through our Facebook feeds and You Tube videos to hear the message of Easter. That in itself is good news.
The Corona virus is taking a huge toll on us, we humans, all around the world. Suffering is not partisan, nor is it particular to one people or one continent. Death tolls are startling, even to funeral home companies. And for every death counted, there are families, extended families, and friends who grieve each person lost to them. The grief is compounded as financial pressures also mount. In the months since the journey with an unleashed virus began, life has changed drastically. Our new journey will not let us dismiss or ignore the pain of death. Death is not a hoax.
What we can do is invite Mary to the phone. Hear someone read the story she lived with the Risen Christ. Or read it yourself: John 20: 1 – 18. Then go stand on your front steps and shout to the world, “Christ is Risen. Christ is Risen indeed.” You may hear the birds sing a response. You may feel the breeze softly whispering, “O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?”
The hope of Resurrection stands beyond the thief that is COVID 19. I pray that wherever you hear the good news, know the good news is for you and for all of us who hope. Jesus has prepared us for this moment: “I will not leave you comfortless; do not be afraid.” Easter is ours to claim because we believe this promise. We are not alone. Christ is Risen and death is defeated. Mary, pick up the phone and tell someone new that you have seen the Lord. Amen.