By Rachel Mash
This year the first week of Easter and Earth Day coincide. In light of this, and of the urgent call to ecological stewardship by Church leaders throughout the world, this week’s devotions will concentrate on the relationship between Easter and creation.
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 16:1-8
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
The different gospel narratives can leave you feeling a bit confused. Just how many women were at the tomb — who exactly were all these Marys? Did they see one angel or two? And this version in Mark seems to suggest that they fled the scene and didn’t say anything to anyone, whereas in other gospel accounts we honor and proclaim these wonderful women as the first evangelists.
If we stop with verse 8 as some manuscripts of Mark did, we end with despair and sorrow. Even though they have been told by a heavenly being that Jesus is alive, even though they can see with their own eyes that the tomb is empty, they are paralyzed by fear and say nothing.
And yet if we read on to the next verse, we read that Jesus did indeed meet with Mary Magdalene and sent her to tell the other disciples.
I find it actually quite wonderful that such an incredible morning could have been written about in so many ways, with different people remembering different aspects of that moving moment. It was such a wonderful experience that they were confused and shaken and remembered it in different ways.
It brings to mind this beautiful quote from G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man:
On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.
The Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash is the environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. She also works with the Green Anglicans Movement and is the secretary to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Christ Church, Tyler, Texas
The Diocese of Kwara – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)