Dear Sisters and Brothers,
For a couple of weeks, I have struggled with the Easter Message. I initially chose the reading from John 20:1-18. Then, I considered the reading from Mark 16:1-18. The Year B lectionary other readings were also given thought, but I returned to the Johannine selection.
My primary focus is on Mary Magdalene. I have been thinking about her and her love for the One who transformed her life. Like the other disciples and followers of Jesus during Holy Week, those days certainly impacted Mary Magdalene. It is my hope and prayer that my thoughts will help you see the faith of one whose life was so profoundly touched by Jesus. May it also be for us, as it has many times, and again, just maybe, in a new and fresh way.
Grace and Peace and immersed with Hope and Joy, Brother Julian, Abbot
Mary Magdalene had seen her beloved Teacher placed in the tomb early on Friday evening just before Sabbath began.
The week before had been filled with activity: a triumphal entry into Jerusalem with a great crowd shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord---the King of Israel!”; Jesus entering the temple and driving out those who were selling Passover items there, saying “My house shall be a house of prayer but you have made it a den of robbers.”; the chief priest, the scribes and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to catch him and destroy him; Jesus teaching in the temple daily, telling parables to provide understanding and insight; and spending time teaching and praying for his disciples; observing Passover and introducing the Eucharistic meal, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet; Jesus shares with his disciples that one of them will betray him; Jesus leads his disciples and followers to the Mount of Olive where he asks his disciples to pray for strength against temptation; Judas comes with the a crowd and soldiers and betraying Jesus with a kiss, and the soldiers arrest him taking him to the high priest’s house. Then, Jesus is lead before the council of the scribes and high priests; in the morning the council take Jesus to Pilate. The next procedure is to take Jesus before Herod, who with his soldiers mocked Jesus and sent Jesus back to Pilate; and Pilate who wishes to release Jesus, but he wants to appease the crowd, so he offered them Barabbas, and they demanded that he release Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Pilate gave the verdict that Barabbas be released and Jesus is sentenced to death by crucifixion.
The Teacher, whom they believed to be the Messiah had actually been crucified. Mary Magdalene had been with other women as Jesus was nailed to the cross, and they actually saw him grow weaker and weaker, and finally he took his last breath. It had been week filled with activity, frustration disappointment, utter exhaustion. Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, had been crucified!
A very tired and even more weary and sad, Mary Magdalene, makes her way to the cemetery, where Jesus had been buried. What was on Mary’s mind? Who will be able to move the huge stone that blocked the opening of the tomb? But more than that, she was grieving her Teacher’s cruel death, and she and other women followers including Mary, the mother of Jesus had personally witnessed all these events. Mary Magdalene was filled with grief, and she knew that Jesus’s mother was hurting so bad that the pain was crushing her heart.
In Luke 8:2, Mary Magdalene is identified as a Galilean woman from whom Jesus had exorcised seven demons. It is important for us to remember that there is no biblical foundation that Mary Magdalene is a sinful woman or prostitute. That imagery was developed in later historical periods.
Imagine that there was a single person who had so impacted and changed your life, and then you saw that one die a cruel death, The emotional suffering that you would be feeling would be almost beyond description. Well, that had happened to Mary Magdalene.
With a heavy heart over the death of the One, her Master, who demonstrated the power of love that changed her life, her entire being is heavy, weighted down with grief and sorrow as she made her way to the tomb where Jesus’ body was buried.
The darkness is diminishing as our Mary came closer to the tomb. She saw, to her surprise, that the huge boulder had been rolled away from the opening of the tomb.
Immediately she runs,, never mind her aching feet, to Simon Peter and the other disciple and told them that Jesus’s body had been taken from the tomb. They both ran to the cemetery, and Mary also returned to the empty tomb.
You remember what happened when the two disciples arrived at tomb, but this reflection is about Mary.
She is now back at the tomb, and with her eyes filled with tears, she looks into the tomb. She sees two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying. They asked why see is weeping, and she responded, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus asked, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” She thought he must be the gardener, and so she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Then what is so amazing happened. Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turns and says to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (it means Teacher).
Even as I type what has happens, I am caught up in what has taken place. Have you ever had an experience where you pinched yourself because it was too good to be true? Well, I just did! Did you do the same?
Mary’s Teacher, whom she had seen die is now ALIVE! She can’t contain herself!
Jesus looks in Mary’s eyes, and says, “Mary, do not hold on to me, for I have not ascended to the Father. But go, Mary, go to my brothers and please tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God!”
The NRSV expresses it this way. “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘ I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”
While scripture does not bear this out, Mary Magdalene was so excited that she ran back to be with the disciples. She might have been even faster than John, the disciple who out ran Peter.
During the Farewell Discourses of John 13-17, Jesus frequently refers to the new relationship that the disciples will have with the Father as a result of Jesus “going away. The incredible relationship that Jesus had with his Father is also available to all his followers!
I close by quoting N. T. Wright in Surprised By Hope.
“God’s intention to draw humans freely into intimate fellowship with himself, has come forward to meet us in Jesus of Nazareth. This is yet one more meaning of the resurrection.”
A LETTER FROM THE ABBOT March 17, 2021
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This letter is especially for our sisters and brothers who have not registered to attend the Fisherman’s Island Retreat. IT IS OUR HOPE THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE in at least part of that event on Fisherman’s Island.
We had been welcomed last year, but COVID-19 intervened. The owners of the island, George and Susan Craig have extended the invitation to come to celebrate our 90th Anniversary of the Brothers and Sisters of the Way this year. The retreat days are July 26-30, 2021.
On Wednesday of the week, July 28, all sisters and brothers of our beloved Order are invited to visit the island for that day. There are places for your vehicles to be parked at no charge at a parking lot at the Boothby Harbor Congregational Church UCC. Members will leave Boothby Harbor by boat at 9 am, and then at 4 pm, you will be escorted back to the mainland. There is no charge for this day.
George and Susan Craig and grandchildren of our founder, Rev. John Henry Wilson, Jan Reit and Nat Wilson, will join us for lunch. The afternoon time will be quite celebratory, as we will participate in a liturgical service. It will include time for sharing, singing the hymn of our order, appropriate readings, presentation of gifts to our guests, and also Holy Communion. Besides the a small retreat keepsake booklet, our hope is to provide a 90thAnniversary Book for all our members that will be sent to them later in the year.
If you can make it for this day, we will provide some specific instructions to make it as easy as possible, so that the whole day will be a delightful experience for you.
So, there you have it, brothers and sisters. It is our hope that a number of you will be able to be present on Wednesday, July 28. After all, we are living the vison of our founder, Brother John Henry Wilson.
Grace and Peace,
Brother Julian Hall, Abbot
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MY INTENTION OF VISITING FISHERMAN’S ISLAND ON JULY 28
Send this to Bro Julian Hall by email firstname.lastname@example.org
or by snail mail: 425 Westminster Ave, Cottage 25, Hanover PA 17331
Allergies or Special Needs or Preferences:
The word “intention” is purposefully used because a number of our members are impacted by different issues. It you would like to attend, we encourage you to complete this form.
If something prevents you from attending, you can cancel the visit by calling
Bro. Julian (717) 873-0602