Easter Sunday 2010 He must rise from the dead
John 20:1-18, Psalm 118, Acts, 1 Corinthians 15:9-28 St George the Martyr Holborn
Christ is risen, he is risen indeed.
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. Mary stood weeping. Bending to look in, she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been. They said to her, Why are you crying? They have taken my Lord away, she said. Then, turning round, she saw the Lord standing there. But she was unable to recognise that it was him. Then he said Mary! and she said, Master?
Jesus greets Mary. This scene from the Gospel of John is portrayed in the window above the altar in my Church, St Mary Stoke Newington. Since Jesus is dressed in bright gold and red, glory and passion, it is the first image that catches your eye when you come in and look down the nave. Mary has come to the tomb to anoint his body. By coming to do this last God for him, of preparing his corpse she, like all of us, can only acknowledge the power of death. But Mary is startled by this absence, and the two figures who pose the question of where Jesus is. Then the Lord calls her name and she is face to face with the living person. Until he does so, she is completely unable to see who he is. She and the disciples are looking towards the Lord, but cannot yet make him out. So are we. Christ is first not visible, and then, as concession to us, visible, yet still, by faith. They must be called by name to recognise him, and to recognise that he has mastered death and so is the master of all creation, the Lord of life.