This year I am walking backwards through Holy Week, beginning in the garden with Jesus meeting Mary and pondering his words don’t cling to me…. we will end in the garden too, going backwards to the cross, through the crucifixion and Gethsemane, the last supper, Jesus teaching in the temple and Palm Sunday revisited…. then back to the garden for Easter Day
It feels in an upside down world that Jesus words “don’t cling to me” have particular importance to the church as we mourn the loss of our gathering and rituals, but begin to discover new ways of living and being.
So I offer the following narrative followed by questions:
Read John 20: 1-18
The reflect on the following interpretation:
Early in the morning while it was still dark she made her way to the garden, carrying ointments to anoint his dead body, she was wracked with grief. Imagine her surprise when she reached the garden, made her way to the tomb and found the stone rolled away, the body gone, the tomb empty.
She had been seeking Jesus, Jesus the one they called teacher and Lord, the one who had been so cruelly crucified, she knew it, she’d seen it with her own eyes, the whole horror of it burnt forever into her memory.
But the tomb was empty, empty…
What could that mean?
Angels were there, but she didn’t see them as angels, and was in truth terrified…
Weeping, confused, and disorientated she looked for someone to help her, it was then that she saw the gardener and gaspingly asked him for help.
Where was her Lord, where could he be?
Mary he said, the voice sounded familiar, and she looked again, this was no gardener, he was the one that she was seeking, her friend, her Lord, alive! Yet he was dead, this impossibility stood before her, alive, dirt under his fingernails, holes in his hands, but alive…
She reached for him, longing to feel his embrace, but he pushed her away….
Do not cling to me he said, I have not risen yet….
Now go, tell the others….
- Take a moment to ponder the narrative, put yourself into the story, how do you encounter Mary’s grief, doubt and confusion in these days?
- In my imagination Mary did not see the angels as angels ( playing with midrash here), rather they terrified her, so I wonder are there things that scare you today that may not have scared you before now?
- Mary finally recognises Jesus by his voice and wants to hold him, he tells her not to cling and sends her away with news for the others ( The disciples and those gathered behind locked doors), how does this speak into our life today, in lockdown, where we are practicing social distancing? How might you feel if you were Mary?
- What do you want to ask Jesus?