Lent Devotions: Resurrection on the loose

April 16, 2017

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

By Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina

John 20:1-18

Resurrection is on the loose! Christ loosed resurrection on the world. We are no longer held helpless to the bondages of despair and desolation, to abuse of power, to unjust political regimes and evil plots. Because Jesus set resurrection on the loose, everything has changed. Do you see the strips of cloth, used to cover Jesus’ face, now shaken off?

Jesus comes forth from the tomb and changes everything! A whole new world where life is more resilient than death, love more passionate than hate, and hoping more compelling than hurting. Can you see the chains of oppression breaking?

Because of Jesus’ resurrection we are a resurrected people! We are resurrected, transitioned, transformed, and transmuted into new life that consciously struggles to start over again, to reimagine the possible, and to live into a new story. 

Mary Magdalene stood crying outside Jesus’ tomb. She was still weeping when the angels ask her, “Why are you crying?” Mary did not recognize them as angels. She answered, “I don’t know where they have taken Jesus’ body!”

Jesus is standing right behind her. When she sees him she also does not recognize him as her Jesus. As the angels asked, Jesus asks, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Mary continues with her very real story of loss and grief, “If you have taken his body away please tell me so I can go and get him.”

Jesus stops her in her tracks and exclaims, “Mary!” She sees and replies, “Teacher.”

Mary Magdalene starts over, reimagines the possible, and lives into a new story. Mary goes to tell the other disciples that she saw Jesus. She tells them everything.

Jesus tells Mary first, the woman, the marginalized, the oppressed, the one who most closely tends to Jesus’ physical needs in life and in death, the one he most strongly trusts with his story of resurrection. Jesus tells her first, and she tells us.

Christ has set resurrection loose in the world! Resurrection is the guiding power in our everyday lives to get up again and again and again. Even when we do not recognize the angels around us or Jesus facing us, resurrection is at work. It is up to all of us to let resurrection loose in our hearts and minds and bodies. It is up to us to let the resurrected Christ infuse us with the power to hope, to live, and to never tire of living into a new story of possibility.   

Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina is the San Francisco Theological Seminary Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, and Chief Diversity Officer.

Because Jesus set resurrection on the loose, everything has changed.

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