A Study of Mary Magdalene

Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 20:1-18.

This week Rev. Kate Ling and the Quest Sunday School Class will lead the Tuskawilla community in “A Study of Mary Magdalene” during our 11:00 worship service. Their leadership in worship provides me the opportunity to worship with Andrew at his new church this Sunday. Thank you, Pastor Kate and Quest Class, for the gifts you share this week!

As I reflect on Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the resurrected Christ, I am continually amazed that Mary did not know she was speaking with Jesus until Jesus said her name. Many women are not named in Scripture and if they are named it is usually because they do not have the best story, whether personal or familial, and yet, Jesus calls Mary by name. He calls this weeping woman to his side. He acknowledges that she is God’s beloved child. He acknowledges Mary for who God says she is, not what her present context or what our present context says she is.

In John 10 in his teaching about the shepherd and his flock, Jesus says the shepherd calls his sheep by name. They listen to him and follow (Jn 10:1-5). At the empty tomb Jesus said to Mary, “Do not hold on to 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'” (Jn 20:17, emphasis added). Jesus called Mary by name, called Mary to himself, and called Mary to follow. With joy she went to her brother disciples, “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18).

In recent years I have not regularly watched or read the daily news because I dread what I will see and hear. Last week I wrote about the terror attack in Istanbul and since that time Baghdad – Bangladesh – Alton Sterling – Falcon Heights, Minnesota – and I am sure others that have not been named for one reason or another – are unfortunately added to list of terror-filled and fear-driven senseless acts of violence. Hearing about these attacks leads me to reading about these attacks, but I do not read about them to be drawn in by the sensational and graphic descriptions. I read about them to read the names, to say aloud the names of God’s children that have died.

Because it is right that they be said.

And then I wonder…

  • If the persons that caused these attacks had known the names of the persons they attacked
  • If relationship had been present instead of fear
  • If their personal stories had been known rather than pervasive stigmas and incorrect stereotypes that mangle the understandings and beliefs about folks that appear different than “us” – whoever the “us” may be –

would these attacks have happened?

This wondering intensifies my hurt about our broken world, which is pale in comparison to the families and communities that have lost loved ones.

Jesus called Mary by name. God calls each of us by name. We are precious. We are beloved. We are known. We are called for a purpose. We are created for healthy relationships. We are intended to have life and have it abundantly. And when our actions, when humanity’s actions interrupt or take away or strip the name and status we have given to us by God through God’s amazing grace, then we are in the wrong and we are ever in need of God’s grace – God’s grace that leads us to repentance, God’s grace that leads us to reconciliation, God’s grace that rescues us from our own pits and helps keep us from digging any deeper.

Jesus said Mary’s name. There is something about the saying of her name. There is something about the saying of our names – about the saying of the names of all God’s children. Lord have mercy on us. Draw us to your side. And send us in your grace to tell of your good news, which will draw us together and heal where we have torn ourselves apart.Let there be peace – your peace – in me, around me, and because of of you in me.

Prayer: “O God, you are the hope of all the ends of the earth, the God of the spirits of all flesh. Hear our humble intercession for all races and families on earth, that you will turn all hearts to yourself. Remove from our minds hatred, prejudice, and contempt for those who are not of our own race or color, class or creed, that, departing from everything that estranges and divides, we may by you be brought into unity of spirit, in the bond of peace. Amen.”*

*“For The World And Its Peoples,” The United Methodist Book of Worship 526.