The Columns – March 2016

WOMEN

I remember Mary Magdalene, the Disciple of Jesus. What an incredible privilege it must have been to be among the first of many females to have that title. I want to see Easter through her eyes! I stand in her place in my mind as I approach the tomb where my dear teacher and friend lies dead…beaten, bruised, abused, and scarred after his crucifixion. As I walk down the dusty path, I keep trying to erase the memory from my mind from days earlier of standing near the cross in horror as he was nailed to it. I replay the moment that they stood it up for all to see his nakedness and pain. I held his mother’s hand and had my arm around her shoulders as we wept in disbelief. It was horrible. Truly awful. It went on for hours. I keep hearing the voices of onlookers cheering at his shame, making fun of our God, and taunting him to work a miracle for himself. I could hear him gasping for breath while still calling out in prayer to his Father. I could feel his love for us even when the sky went black.

I shiver as I walk and purposefully shake my head to try to clear my thoughts. Today is about him. I have forever to grieve my loss. Today I need to honor him. I set the basket down that is filled with oils and spices and rest my arms for a moment. Even at the break of day the darkness engulfs me still. I can’t ignore my grief. In my sorrow I heave sad sighs. It hurts so deeply to know his life has ended. Step by step I realize I will never sit at his feet again…share a meal with him again…hear him laugh again. Death is such a final and desolate thing when it happens to someone young…someone full of life and love and wisdom. He deserves to be honored in death. It is the only thing I can do at this point to show my love for him. To prepare his body will be my goodbye. This will be my act of worship, the only gift I have left to give him.

As I glance up, a branch of an olive tree obscures my view slightly, but I push it aside and freeze in my place. Surely not! Surely my eyes deceive me! I grip the basket tighter and quicken my pace, but the closer I get, the more confused I feel. The stone–the stone is moved! We had witnessed his body placed in the tomb. We saw the stone rolled into place. Who could have, would have moved it? I turned to look at the women following behind me. I called to them to hurry! We reached the opening and looked in. I felt sick inside. It was empty. My Lord’s body was not there. The panic and shock that seized me caused me to run as fast as I could to tell Peter. I don’t think he believed me at first. But suddenly, he jumped up, along with the other disciple, and went racing to the tomb. I was determined to stay with them, so I ran back, too.

Peter excitedly went inside the tomb. He saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth lying there. What seemed to be angelic figures appeared…two men, seated at either end of the slab…and one of them spoke: “He is not here. He is risen, just as he said.” Then they were gone. The tomb had an energy about it, not of death, but of the extraordinary. What had happened here? Risen? When did he say that?

The disciples left, except for me. I just needed to sit…to think…to try to fathom who could have stolen the body of Jesus. Why? Why would anyone do that? My grief overwhelmed me and I began to sob. In my selfishness, I was angry that I wouldn’t get to have a final goodbye to even his corpse. In my sorrow, I prayed for a miracle that he would be returned. In my disbelief, I told myself it wasn’t true, someone must have made a mistake. We have to have his body!

“Woman, why are you crying?” I turned, but didn’t see. I just responded that if this man had taken my Lord’s body, to please tell me where he had put him. I wanted nothing more than to care for him…to hold him.

“Mary.” Another wave of shock rolled through my body, my heart almost entirely lodged in my throat! I turned. I saw.

“Rabboni!!” There stands my teacher! Fully present! In a moment in time my soul went from heart-stopping loss to a place of thankfulness and joy and amazement. I am living in a miracle. He’s alive! He’s alive!!

Mary’s story is our story. Jesus meets us in our deepest need. He makes his presence known. He calls us by name. Jesus loves us as women. He loves our hearts and our outlook on life; he loves our emotions and our perseverance. He loves our capacity to love others. He loves how we grieve. He loves how we think. He loves us enough to die for us and then overcome death.

Come feel the energy of the Resurrection. Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!

This is what Christ’s love feels like—it’s passionate! It’s alive!

Happy Easter!
Deana Mitchell

DEANA MITCHELL • Director of Women’s & Prayer Ministries • dmitchell@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/women

UPCOMING EVENTS
Pig Roast “Eggs”travaganza • March 20, 2016 • 11:00AM • Rice Family Farm

STUDIES
Tuesdays • January 19 – April 12 • Epic of Eden • 5:45PM • E&A Room 316
Wednesdays • January 20 – April 13 • Epic of Eden • 10:30AM • E&A Room 316
Tuesdays • September 2016 (12 Sessions) • The Letter to the Romans • 5:45PM • E&A Room 316
Wednesdays • September 2016 (12 Sessions) • The Letter to the Romans • 5:45PM • E&A Room 316

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