Easter Sunday: Where Resurrection Begins

Image: While It Was Still Dark © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Easter Sunday:
John 20.1-18 or Luke 24.1-12

John’s Gospel tells us it was still dark when Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb and found it empty. I love that detail—that Easter began in the shadows, well before sunrise. This is the way resurrection works: it gathers itself in the darkness, beginning in such secrecy and hiddenness that when it happens, it can be difficult for us to recognize it at first.

This seems to be how it was for the Magdalene on that first Easter morning. Perhaps it was because of her tears or the early hour that she mistook Jesus for a gardener, but the truth is that despite the promises Jesus had made about his return, nothing could have prepared Mary to see him standing before her, speaking her name.

With the sound of her name came recognition, and with recognition came a choice: would Mary attempt to hold on to Christ and the life she had known, or would she accept his call to leave the empty tomb and proclaim what she had seen?

We are here because of the choice Mary Magdalene made on that Easter morning. As Easter arrives once again, what threshold will we choose to cross, that we may tell what we have seen?

The Magdalene’s Blessing
For Easter Day

You hardly imagined
standing here,
everything you ever loved
suddenly returned to you,
looking you in the eye
and calling your name.

And now
you do not know
how to abide this hole
in the center
of your chest,
where a door
slams shut
and swings open
at the same time,
turning on the hinge
of your aching
and hopeful heart.

I tell you,
this is not a banishment
from the garden.

This is an invitation,
a choice,
a threshold,
a gate.

This is your life
calling to you
from a place
you could never
have dreamed,
but now that you
have glimpsed its edge,
you cannot imagine
choosing any other way.

So let the tears come
as anointing,
as consecration,
and then
let them go.

Let this blessing
gather itself around you.

Let it give you
what you will need
for this journey.

You will not remember
the words—
they do not matter.

All you need to remember
is how it sounded
when you stood
in the place of death
and heard the living
call your name.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Easter bonus: Some years ago, Gary and I created a video that intertwines my series The Hours of Mary Magdalene (inspired by the life and legends of the Magdalene and by illuminated books of hours from the Middle Ages) with his gorgeous and haunting song “Mary Magdalena,” which appears on his CD House of Prayer. I would love to share it with you this Easter. To view/listen, click the icon below, and it will take you to the video on the Vimeo website.

For previous reflections for Easter Sunday, visit Easter Sunday: This Is Not the End.

Using Jan’s artworkTo use the image “While It Was Still Dark,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.