I read from the Old Testament.
I turn the pages back, I always do the hard things first, move on more confident in completing the others and feeling more connected and encouraged, courageous.
I stopped on a verse about bringing all things valuable to God, gold and trinkets and valuables, such things worthy of being offered at the throne of God.
I would have nothing to give. What on earth could I have given? Wedding rings and tiny diamond studs? Bracelets here and there, gifts from my daughter, my son? I’d bring them there and leave them. They’d pale in comparison to the mounds of others left seeking to be atoned.
“And we have brought the Lord ‘s offering, what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and beads, to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”
Numbers 31:50 ESV
What would I have to bring?
I flipped to Psalms and read the verses describing the people who could never be satisfied, who forgot about the wonders and good things of God.
Sometimes I forget, I remember.
Miracles like parted seas, food raining down from heaven and protection from horrific famine, terror and defeat…led by Moses because God told him he could and he believed, even when the thousands did not.
“They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.”
Then, I return to the Book of John and I am open hearted and minded and perhaps, even excited.
Because, the Book of John and the people Jesus decided mattered when no one else cared, these are the people who are making me strong, the women like me.
I understand the woman Jesus greeted as she waited to be stoned, tried to be as hidden as she could. I imagine her smile as Jesus tells the others, cast a stone if you’re free of sin. If not, go your way.
And they did.
I can see the surprise on the woman’s face who’d known many men when Jesus told her, I know you too.
It’s time to thirst no more for what has not quenched you before you. He gave her water, living water.
So she told everyone who she met and how she was changed.
And this morning, in John 20, I am reacquainted with Mary Magdalene, the one weeping over the empty tomb.
The one Jesus healed, her mind able to see more clearly, whatever demons had entangled her thoughts, he removed.
No wonder she called him “Teacher”. She longed to learn more.
Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus.
Lots of modern day reviewers of scripture call her a prostitute. She had seven demons and she anointed the feet of Jesus. She was the first to hear him speak when all the others had lost hope.
She heard him say her name.
She called him “Teacher” and followed him from the time he turned her life around, to his grave. When she and the disciples discovered the tomb empty, they left.
But, she lingered.
Grief is complicated.
Sometimes we stick with sorrow because sorrow is all we have left that is them, the one we are grieving. If we discard or sorrow, what then will remind?
So, I believe on Resurrection morn, Mary lingered in the last place her Savior and her Teacher, the one who changed her had been.
It’s barely daylight, she’s alone but oblivious to the possible danger or question of others. A man appears as her head lifts from her chest. She thinks he’s the gardener, maybe a worker, maybe there to clear up the mess the ones who’d removed Jesus left behind.
She asks if he knows where the body has gone.
“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Jesus asked why she was weeping.
She turns and Jesus says, “Mary”.
She answers, “Teacher” and goes quickly to tell the others he lives.
“I have seen the Lord.”
I have not seen and it can be hard to believe; but I do.
And if it were not for Easter, I’d not be free.
This I know, this I believe.
I’ve not enough valuables or golden and cherished jewels to atone me.
Grace, grace thus far.
Because of mercy.