John 20:1-18 Easter Sunday Reflection by Mart the Rev

Later this year I will have been a Presbyterian Minister for 30 years! I have an admission to make to you (don’t tell anyone!), I still cannot explain the resurrection of Jesus!

I know this is a tragic failure on my part. I apologise – I know you hoped for more from me!

Can you think of anything you cannot explain? Isn’t in annoying!  Don’t you reckon if you keep learning more it will come to you?  I do that with many things – wait, watch, read, adapt, find.  It comes to me – often it comes to me.  But not the resurrection!  I can’t explain it.  It’s like a black hole in space for me – I can’t explain those either!  As it happens, only a few of the best minds in the world manage to get their heads around black holes, so, maybe, it’s ok for the rest of us not to understand everything!

Maybe you can believe even if you don’t understand. I believe in black holes.  But I only believe in black holes because I trust the witness of those who have found a way of seeing what cannot be seen.

Here’s the thing about resurrection – you don’t have to explain it to see it. That’s where I’ve got to.  When you track the stories in the gospels about people meeting Jesus after the cross and the tomb, he isn’t what he was.  Well, he is himself, but he isn’t…but he is…and he isn’t.  He appears through a wall for goodness sake!

Mary Magdalene was there outside the now empty tomb – in shock, bewildered – not because Jesus has risen – she has no concept of that – but because he is missing. Someone had removed his body.  A man talked to her – a gardener, she thought (that’s who you expect to find in the garden, and why would she think otherwise?) until he said her name – ‘Mary.’

‘Mary.’ Maybe we need to pay more attention to gardeners!  And butchers and sweet elderly ladies and bus drivers and lawn mower contractors, and children… we never know who is going to say our name in the way Jesus says Mary’s name.

That’s the thing for me – I can’t explain the resurrection, but I have sometimes heard God calling my name – through gardeners, poets, friends, mentors, and even strangers.

Have you?

Have you understood things in a totally different light because someone opened a window of possibility that you couldn’t see for looking, or even believed possible?

Does Jesus still play out his resurrected presence in dreams and visions and imagination and daring and gentleness and kindness and love and thoughtfulness? Does he play it out for each and every one of us every day in the simple wonder of the first conscious breath we take when we wake up in the morning?

Like Mary, I have seen, heard, felt and known the resurrection, often in something I wasn’t even looking for, in the landscape, but more often in people – most often in people…

All I get is a hint of resurrection – an ‘aha’ moment that informs me that there is more going on than meets the eye.

All I get is a kind of knowing that I can’t explain all that well, and I sense the life of God coming close, and it is enough even if I can’t explain it.

Even if I can’t explain it I know enough to know, and that’s enough to make any given day very interesting indeed.