A Creative Retelling, from John 20
Mary: Rabbi, it's you! Oh, thank God. (she hugs him)
Jesus: Listen, I can't stay. I'm only here for a moment.
Mary: You can't stay?
Jesus: No, I just wanted you to see me before I left, and know that I'm okay. And I want you to tell the others.
Mary: What do you mean before you left? Where are you going?
Jesus: I'm going to go be with God. Tell them all I'll be with the Father. Your God, the one you already know.
Mary: But you came back.
Jesus: For just a moment. I have to go, but I will be with you all in spirit.
The Grief and the Glory
I often think of Easter in songs.
There's Keith Green's lyrics - "it is finished. He has done it. Life conquered death. Jesus Christ has won it."
But there's also Bryan Duncan's song - "Please know that I love you. I'll stay by your side. If only now in spirit. I'll still be your guide. You will not suffer long. I've suffered for you. I love you with my life."
When Easter comes, I feel the triumph of the victory, but right along with that is the sadness of the loss.
I think about the confusion Jesus's friends and family must have felt. None of them had expected the story to end this way. And it must have taken a while to sort out that it was also a beginning and a very important one.
Being with him, even for a moment, would have been wonderful. But then he left again. They wouldn't have understood yet what it meant to be with them in spirit.
So, I am an odd duck, I know, to relive grief every year along with the glory of his victory, but I do.
And I understand the bigger picture. I'm so grateful that he did leave, because now I can know him in spirit. And so can you.
But I want to say that it's also okay to miss him. To wish you could hug him. Or sit at his feet the way and have dinner with him, the way Mary and Martha did.
This Easter ending of the story foreshadows the one we all long for, the time still to come when we will be with Jesus and see him with our own eyes.
I would like to say, just before I leave you, I'll be back some day. And with me I will take you. So do not be afraid. Only watch and pray. And wait for my return. ... I'll prepare a place where we can live together. And we'll be face to face. And share our new forever. ... Please know that I love you, I'll stay by your side. If only now in spirit, I'll still be your guide...