This day, this morning is about hope and resurrection and those that were the first witnesses, but I’m gonna tell you, if you want to go down a rabbit hole, which is oddly appropriate for the day, check out the Wikipedia article on Mary Magdalene. She’s one of my favorite people in the Bible, I guess one of my personal Bible heroes. For some time I have felt that way, but as I sat down to study and write, I asked myself, “why?” Mary is the first in this account. She is the first sent by Jesus to go and proclaim the good news of the resurrection and what happens? Centuries of women being subjugated and kept from ministry Ecclesiastical second class citizens. Her story even gets perverted down through the ages and she is assumed to be the woman caught in adultery with no scriptural bases and officially pronounced to be one in the same by a pope many centuries later. Many others tarnished her name down through the ages discounting her. So one reason is that I feel she has been unfairly treated and seek to give her the proper respect. Secondly, my being resonates with hope in that moment in the garden and the one word that Jesus says. When I was eight years old, we adopted my brother Chris. He was about 5 years younger than me so he couldn’t really play with the big boys so to speak. I loved him, and we would rough-house in the living room with my football and did fairly well playing together, but sometimes I wanted to hang out with friends my age. I would go over to my friend, Stan’s to ride my bike, build forts, climb trees and sword fight or light saber fight with sticks or rusty metal swing set parts. It was the 70’s and seatbelts stayed stuffed down in the seats and you would have needed an engineering degree to figure out a shoulder harness. The cool thing is my friend ended up becoming a lead character for the Medieval Times franchise. Who knew we were building careers? All the while I was at Stan’s house, Chris would come outside, climb up onto the picnic table and yell my name across a couple hundred yards of neighborhood trying to get me to come back home. Exactly one year and one day after Chris came to live with us he died of an extremely fast and aggressive strain of Leukemia. We can know deep down that, as an eight year old, I needed to have some time with my peers, but to hear him say my name again, with that little brother’s admiration. He wanted to be with me, follow me around and be my shadow. Everytime I would go off to play for a long time I would think of him calling me and yelling my name. I just know in my heart that Mary had that same longing. I think many of us have that same longing. If I had a few more minutes. If I would have had the words. If I hadn’t had that argument. Our laments are many and varied. Our pain is real and our longing is deep. It’s not helpful to go to people in the midst of raw grief and try to cheer them up by reminding them that their loved one is in a better place or that they will see them again, or God just needed another angel. I’ve heard them all, but on this day the light dawns on the new reality. Mary came to the garden in the darkness. I get it. This thing has happened and she’s lying in bed, can’t sleep, had to wait for the whole day of the Sabbath to pass, which in truth probably felt the furthest thing from restful when she just wanted to go and be nearby. So she went ahead and got up and went. She gets there and nothing’s like it’s supposed to be. The tomb is standing open and Jesus was gone. In grief, all the things concerning this day did not come to her mind. She’s at a place where not only has she seen Jesus horrifically executed, but it’s all compounded because she’s losing him a second time. He got arrested, stood somewhat of a trial the same night and was killed the next day. There was no time to say goodbye and now she was being denied the smallest opportunity of proximity to grieve near his body. She’s got to let folks know. She’s not selfish so she runs and notifies her friends. They all return and are blown away and they walk away stunned, but Mary can’t bring herself to leave. My brother’s room stayed as it was for years and I hear that that is the case for many others. We walk in darkness with so much blurred out trying to hang on for awhile longer. Things aren’t right, but we try to feel our way forward. I had an experience one time in a church I was pretty new at. I arrived and headed in the lower floor door and it shut behind me. I realized that I had no idea where the light switch was and I couldn’t find it. But hey, it’s a straight hallway with some preschool rooms and the door to the stairwell on the right. I felt my way and found the door, opened it and headed for the stairwell, tripping on the mop bucket and supplies and hitting the shelves in the janitor’s closet. It’s not always that easy to find our way alone in the darkness. Actually it can be very difficult and Jesus does not shame Mary for that. Remember, not too long before he had been weeping by the tomb of one of his friends. There in the breaking darkness is when Jesus speaks. The word reverberates through my very being. “Mary”. Jesus simply calls her by her name and with that the light dawns. Recognition! Joy! Resurrection. He’s alive. He is risen! Alleluia! And she grabs him and is clinging to him, hanging on. To me, the only possible thought that could be going through her mind would be, “I’m never going to let you go.” Jesus asks her not to hold on to him as he must go to the Father and he ties her alongside him into the same resurrection, “to my Father and to your Father.” They are both God’s children and destined for eternal life. Mary’s message to the others is, “I have seen the Lord.” In John, to see (horao) the Lord is to know, believe in, receive and trust the Lord. It is to have the power to become a daughter of God. Mary Hinkle Shore points out that there is an interval between God’s work to raise Jesus and the time when it (finally!) makes a difference for Mary. Hearers could follow Mary’s experience and think of our own times of not knowing and not seeing how life could ever come out of the death that surrounds us. Yet Jesus appears. He knows his own, and he makes himself known to them. I know that dark interval, which I would expect so many of you to know. I sit and try to hear it in my head, the sound of Chris’ voice. I can’t pull it up. 45 years have passed and the mists of time have brought darkness there. But….Mary. This sacred moment in the Gospel. The compassionate word. It’s hard for me to say her name in the reading because the response comes with so much feeling. In it, the recognition of the reversal from agony to overflowing joy, of death having lost its grip, of rebirth, of darkness no more, of the very stones crying out. There’s a part in my favorite hymn and poem, “O Day Full of Grace” that says, “Yea, were every tree endowed with speech and every leaflet singing, they never with praise God’s worth could reach, though earth with their praise be ringing. Who fully could praise the light of life who light to our souls is bringing.” When I say, “Rabbouni!” all of that is going through my head and I just don’t feel that I can do her response justice, that is until that day… Jonathan. I wonder who I’ll hear first. Will it be Jesus or my ever energetic not to be unheard or quieted brother Chris. That day the stones will cry out, the trees will shout and the leaves will sing. That longing and hope to hear my name and be reunited with so many. It’s the hope of Easter. Your name whispered or thundering from Jesus Christ and all of your loved ones uniting in a chorus that shatters the darkness and tombs that hold us. It’s Easter. Christ has risen from the grave that all of God’s children will hear their names again. Because of Christ’s resurrection, we live in an interval of hope. There indeed is darkness but we share the light of Christ with one another. We bear the light to those who walk in the dark valley and the shadow of the cross. We are called to remember the cross and return to it to bring the light to others and to walk with them and share with them that light and hope. As “O Day Full of Grace” says O day full of grace which we behold, Now gently to view ascending, Thou over the earth thy reign unfold, Good cheer to all mortals lending, That children of light in every clime May prove that the night is ending. A new day has dawned. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed!