(Photo credit Concordia Publishing House)
As I have been mulling this post over in my head for a few days now, the paschal blessing from one of the worship settings in Lutheran Worship (the hymnal we used on my college campus back before the new hymnal came out) keeps playing in my memory. It’s a selection from Luke 24:1-7. The text from the New International Version of the Bible reads:
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’
It’s fitting to me that the memory of this passage goes back to college, mostly because my own group of “the Marys” goes back to college. The other day, Jaime mentioned that she had been meditating on the women going to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and how that related to our “coffeehouse.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking of it, so I’m borrowing her idea (without talking to her about it – sorry, Jaime) and offering my thoughts on my Marys.
These women were Christians before Christians were named Christians. They knew this Jesus because He lived among them and they believed in Him because He showed them how He was the fulfillment of Scripture – the Scripture they had been taught since their childhood. He loved them because they were His – not for anything they could offer Him (because, really, what can anyone offer their God?). They were terrified when He was taken from their midst. They mourned when He was crucified and when He died. Without thinking anything of it, they were on their way to the tomb to prepare His body, as was the custom, because it needed to be done. They were confused by finding the stone already rolled away from the tomb. And they rejoiced in the Good News of His resurrection from the dead!
My Marys – we do that, too. We are Christians – we celebrate Christ and we remind each other of how He is the fulfillment of Scripture – the Scripture we have been taught since our childhoods. We remind each other of God’s love for us through His sacrifice on the cross – not for anything we can bring (for we are poor, miserable sinners). We have walked together through terrifying losses, mourned together, done our work He has given us to do without thinking much about it, because it needs to be done. We have upheld each other in confusing times that just don’t make sense. We wonder about things together. And rejoicing together! Oh, we love rejoicing together! Daily victories, parenting wins, marriage successes… especially in the Good News of Christ’s victory for us (for you, too!) over sin and death in His resurrection from the dead.
Oh, my Marys – Jaime, Ali, Heidi – my constant arrows pointing me to Christ when my nature wants me to look inward. My compass in my pocket covering different time zones so there’s almost always someone available to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). My life is fuller and my eyes are kept focusing on Christ because of your daily (hourly, minute-ly?) reminders of where my focus should be. I thank God for you all daily.