An Easter Message from Bishop Bryan: When Easter Calls Your Name

4/10/2017

To the South Georgia Conference:

The Resurrection Run. That is what I call the opening scene in the Easter story in the Gospel of John. 

The Resurrection Run starts with Mary Magdalene who goes to the tomb, finds the stone rolled away, and then runs to find Peter and the other disciple (possibly John, the gospel writer himself). Those two men respond by joining the Resurrection Run, and we even get a news report as to who won the race: “The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first” (John 20:4). If I’m John and I write the gospel, then I win the race!

Suddenly a shift occurs. The two disciples leave the scene but Mary Magdalene stays. “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.” 

Mary stops running.

That is not as easy to do as it sounds.  We live in a culture that is dominated by running.
 
Listen to our daily language:                  

  • I’m running some errands.
  • I'm running to work.
  • I'm running home.
  • I'm running to the store.
  • I'm running late.
  • I’ll run it by your house.
  • My mind is racing.
  • My imagination is running wild.
  • My emotions are running away.

Running describes us.

But Mary stops running. Mary stays at the tomb and is weeping. And that is when Easter calls her name: “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!'"

When Easter calls your name you discover the treasure you seek is buried in the ground on which you are standing. Because she stopped running and stayed right there in her grief and tears, Mary heard Easter call her name. Mary was herself resurrected by the Resurrected Christ.

The Resurrected One meets us right where we are, even if we are weeping on Easter. If you ask Mary, all she could tell you from that day forward is that at the worst moment – when tears were all she had – the Resurrection was standing right beside her.

As I thank God for our wonderful South Georgia Conference, I am praying that on Easter we will stop running and listen as Easter calls our name. That may come as you faithfully participate in the services of Holy Week. It may come as you sing an Easter hymn, or as you hear an Easter sermon, or as the Holy Spirit speaks to you on Easter Day. But it will happen. The Christian faith lives today because Easter keeps calling your name.

Listen to the way Albert Schweitzer says it in this piece from his book, “In Quest of the Historical Jesus.” Remember that Schweitzer was already an accomplished organist and a respected theologian when he decided to go to medical school so he could become a medical missionary in Africa. How does Easter call your name? Here is Albert Schweitzer’s answer to that question:

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side, He came to those who knew Him not.

He speaks to us the same word: 'Follow me!' and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time.

And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings...they...pass through...and...they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.

That is what happened to Mary – the Risen Christ revealed himself to her in the toils, conflicts, and suffering she was passing through as she stopped running and stayed at the tomb.

Like Mary, the Resurrection Run has led us to Easter. Now let us stop running and listen as Easter calls our name. Hallelujah!

Alive Together in Christ,

Lawson Bryan