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Lenten Devotional 3/28/2024

Good Morning! I have looked forward to each Tuesday and Thursday this Lenten season preparing and sending these devotionals to all of you. I would like to say a special thank you to all of our devotional writers this year and your willingness to say yes without hesitation. It has been a joy and honor to share your faith and spiritual wisdom with our TCU community. Today’s devotional are my own words to all of you.  As you prepare for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday, I pray that in sharing Mary Magdalene’s story and how it speaks to me helps prepare you for your encounter with the risen Christ. Happy Easter, all.

John 20: 1-18

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.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,  and the cloth that had been on Jesus’s head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed, for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb,  and she saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and she told them that he had said these things to her.”

On Sunday morning, we will awake knowing that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  We know this because we have hindsight on our side.  We know the story, and we can celebrate the story because we know how it ends. But today, for just a moment, put yourself in Mary Magdalene’s shoes. A grieving heart. An empty tomb. Confusion. Defeat. Devastation. And then…her own name spoken from a resurrected Christ.

Resurrection is hard to believe, and our modern world doesn’t make it any easier, does it? It is much easier to give in and give up instead of holding out hope that the best is yet to come, and that we can get through really rough patches. It is hard when all signs point to defeat and devastation that what we thought was never possible is actually not only possible, but a new reality.

But, my friends, we have good news today and every day, because we have the story of Easter Sunday.  Mary Magdalene questioned what she saw, and I can imagine rubbed her eyes, did a double take, played over what was happening in her mind’s eye, and then Jesus said her name. He called her by name! And, everything changed.  She embraced what she saw and believed resurrection was not only possible, it was a reality, and she couldn’t wait to tell others.

Imagine if we looked for resurrection stories happening all around us every day in the same way we anticipate Easter Sunday. You see, the risen Christ of Easter Sunday who guarantees us life after death is the same Christ who shows us that through his love for us we can experience resurrection here and now in our earthly lives reminding us there is always a new beginning happening. The resurrected Christ reminds us that in his own love for us, there is always forgiveness,  and there is always room for what we deem impossible to not only happen, but become the rest of our own stories we can’t wait to tell. That is the power of the resurrection. What stories of resurrection are all around us are waiting to be told? How can we share that good news just like Mary Magdalene?

May we be faithful enough to enter the empty tombs all around us, and may we be bold enough to run and tell what we see because we have a story to tell, for we too have seen the Lord.

Often my prayer life involves poems.
Below is one from Mary Oliver and reading it each year as the sun rises on Easter Sunday is one of my own spiritual practices. Enjoy.

 Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.



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