Did you see Jesus when you walked into church today—in the hymns, in the people, in the sacred space? If you didn’t, do not feel bad. Mary Magdalene did not see him, even though he stood right in front of her! She couldn’t see because she was bereft.
I know how Mary felt. One year, after the Easter service, I took a journey, much like Mary, to honor the dead—my parents and uncle who had been gone a long time. I took a trip to the place where they had spent many happy years. My parents lived on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a charming little brick home, and my uncle had a lovely place a few miles away from them. Every time I visited with them, I enjoyed their cozy homes and beautiful grounds. My uncle was so enamored with his house that he arranged to be buried in his backyard.
My first stop was the home my parents lovingly tended for twenty years. The once-charming country home looked careworn and neglected. A rusty pickup truck was parked in the area my father gardened. My uncle’s home was even more ramshackle. As I searched for my uncle’s tomb, I tripped over the stone; it was overgrown with weeds and dirt. In my mind’s eye, I saw my uncle perpetually spinning in his grave. I was completely bereft. On Sunday I walked into the little church my parents had attended. I didn’t expect to be inspired by the service. After all, on the Sunday after Easter, choirs and pastors take a holiday, and attendance is way down.
But something wondrous happened that day. My parents, who had left that mountain eight years prior, were not only remembered, but honored. People told me that my parents’ lives had a lasting impact. They shared stories of their lives that I had never heard before. The members that day treated me like a long-lost sister. I saw Jesus . . . in their words, in their gracious hospitality.
Signs of Jesus are all around us. Sometimes we are so bereft that we fail to see him standing right in front of us. My prayer is that your eyes will be opened to see Jesus and proclaim with Mary, “I have seen the Lord!”
Dawn Volpe, pastor, Ephraim Moravian Church, Ephraim, Wisconsin