Crossing the Threshold

John 20:1-18

The Resurrection

20 Early on the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 9 for until then they still had not understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, Teacher.

17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

Matthew 28:1-10 The Resurrection

28 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Psalm 150

1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven!

2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!

3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;    praise him with the lyre and harp!

4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;    praise him with strings and flutes!

5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

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Wow! What a morning! Earthquakes, stone rolling away, angels, weeping, running, uncertainty, fear, wondering, hoping, recognizing, praying, and smiling with joy!

In the early morning while it was still dark. Mary Magdalene and the other women carefully found their way to the tomb. The quiet of the darkness surrounds and keeps its secrets. All is still hidden from full visibility. Trees and shrubs have not yet taken on their familiar forms. Perhaps some rustling noises of ground squirrels searching for food or shelter. The stars in the early morning sky are like small bright pin spots amidst the surrounding darkness.  A chill in the air.

The Early morning darkness presents itself as a threshold, a doorway one needs to cross. We do not yet know what lies on the other side. There is mystery in the early morning darkness.

The tomb awaits. The mystery, fear, and hope that the tomb represents is strong upon our hearts. We each have our own tombs that hold a mystery. A sadness, a fear, a hurt, loneliness? For the moment Mary does not cross that threshold. She  does not enter into the dark and empty tomb. Instead, she goes to the disciples and they come running. Panting, wondering, hoping, fearing. Out of breath. Hesitant. One looks in, then the other goes in, takes that risk to enter the threshold. Then the other follows. They realize something extraordinary may have happened. But still not certain. And then they go home!

It is that way when we come to a threshold, an edge. What might happen when we cross a threshold, a boundary of sorts – one that we have created to avoid something unknown which might lead to new wonders, new discoveries of our inner self, new living? It is risky.

But how does our current pain or thirst motivate us to enter that threshold? Open the door! Cross that threshold! Look for something extraordinary! Do not deny yourself what lies beyond the threshold. The boys ran home! They retreated to their homes. To the familiar where they could hide. Just as they did as Jesus was arrested and executed, they had run away to hide.

But the women had stayed and watched bearing their grief openly. Mother Mary was deeply wounded.

I have stood by the incredible sculpture of Jesus and his mother Mary by Michelangelo – called the Pieta – a representation of Mary, the mother of Jesus looking with such love, such sadness as she holds the dead and limp body of her son. It is so beautifully painful to look at. It moves my soul.

For me it is like the hymn “Ah , Holy Jesus” which we sang on Good Friday. (289) Ah Holy Jesus, Alas my treason, I, Lord Jesus, I, it was I denied thee. I crucified thee.

Yet, Mary Magdalene waits at the tomb. Her love is so strong she is willing to bear the pain of loss in hopes that something will happen. Where have you taken him, my teacher, my friend, the one whom I love? Her suffering is intense, it is deep and physical. When you weep your body shivers from the depths.

When have you wept like that? It is so painfully beautiful. It cleanses us. How do we find the courage to cross?

In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.”
– Howard Thurman

Beautifully painful. Dark and Light. Mystery and Awe, Wonder and amazement.

“Our goal should be to live in radical amazement, to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; every is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

A book about Howard Thurman (20th century Christian mystic, pastor, and writer) is titled “What Makes You Come Alive” by Lerita Coleman Brown. What makes you come alive? To dance and sing and praise and be grateful? Modeh ani l’fanecha  Ru-ach chai v’kayam (Thank you living G-d for mercifully granting my soul another day of awareness)

This is what we need to be as we enter into a new life . A new life of vision and hope and making the necessary movements to instill this vision into others and into our communities. Not just the man who was and is Jesus and with all who lived in and with the divine presence but as we live our lives in compassion, hopefulness, gentleness, welcoming, and opening up to the divine presence in our lives. The rest is all just something to look at and sweep under the rug. Our doctrines and creeds too often muddle the ways to love, compassion, justice and well-being.  Amen.

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(The painting at the top of the article is by my wife, Alessandra Cortese de Bosis. You can find more of her work at: https://alessandracortesedebosis.com/)

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