If it is not alright then it is not yet the end.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

In the account of the Resurrection from the Gospel of John, we encounter Mary Magdalene in an intimate moment of great loss.

Three times in these eighteen verses, she grieves in direct quotations:

• “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

• “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

• “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

We, the readers of John’s gospel, who experience the cycle of death and resurrection every year, know that Jesus’ body is gone from the tomb because he has been resurrected from the dead.

But Mary doesn’t know that.

All this woman wants at this moment is to tend to the body of her murdered, martyred spiritual companion, prophet, and teacher, the man who is so close to God that he can work healing miracles.

This woman, Mary, who is widely accepted among secular historians that Mary Magdalene to be a real historical figure, came from the Galilean fishing town of Magdala, and she travelled with Jesus during his life and she supported him financially from her resources.

She was a leader of the women who supported Jesus’ ministry, and she was devoted to the holy man who had healed her of her demons.

In his life Jesus had offered her a gospel of hope for the oppressed that would have appealed to a woman with means and capability but who was restricted by traditional gender roles.

Mary Magdalene was a female leader, a counterpart of Peter.

She witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, and now she is the first witness to his resurrection.

Only she does not know it yet.

For her, in that garden, the last vestiges of the world she had helped to forge, the last traces of hope that she clung on to, had vanished, as she thought the broken body of the man who meant so much to her had been stolen.

She, like the rest of the disciples had failed to fully understand the totality of Jesus’ teaching about the trials he would endure and the fact that he would ultimately overcome them.

How many times have we perhaps been in similar situations?

How many times has the world and its people stared down the brink of disaster, death and destruction?

How close to the edge has the earth been brought because of pollution and devastation of the natural world?

How many species of animals have gone, and continue to go extinct?

How many times have entire peoples been persecuted to the very brink of extinction in just this last century alone?

Even now with the vaccine beginning to roll out to combat the pandemic it still feels like dark times.

It still feels so hard to glimpse that light at the end of the tunnel.

This week in our bible study group we looked at the life and work of Desmond Tutu. He was a truly wonderful man who never lost sight of the light and continued to pursue it even though he lived through the darkest of times.

Despite the apparent resolute fixedness of Apartheid he kept believing, kept working, kept hoping and in the end, with no obvious reason why, Apartheid ended.

As we reflected on this amazing life in the context of faith and scripture we were reminded of the line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that says:

“Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, then it is not yet the end.”

That is what today is all about!

The resurrection is hope in the midst of darkness and despair.

It is life in the midst of death and decay.

It is peace in the midst of strife, order in the midst of chaos, and freedom in the midst of slavery.

It is love in the midst of hatred.

It is everything it possibly could be to let us all know not to give up.

It encourages us all to keep working, to keep fighting for what is right – truly right and fair and just – where no oppression is allowed to exist.

This is the theme of the final clip from the Lent Series I have been sharing with you from Common Grace, this week by Josh Dowton, the Associate Pastor at Northside Baptist Church, and former lecturer in New Testament and early Church history, biblical languages, and theology of social justice.

In it Josh reminds us that in this world we will encounter injustice, brokenness, pain and death, both in our own lives and in the lives of others but that Jesus' statement, “I am the resurrection and the life”, reminds us that this is not the whole story.

Just like Mary not knowing the full story in the garden.

But out of this despair we can begin to see a glimmer of hope.

But he also reminds us that Jesus brings not only hope for the future, but the reality of abundant life right now.

It’s into this life that we are called, as we become who God created us to be. And it’s this life that animates our work in the world, for justice and freedom and wholeness.

“Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, then it is not yet the end.”

Christ is Risen. Alleluia and Amen.

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