And so the story goes.
It was a cold and weepy dawn when Mary came. The ancient word does not tell us if the sun rose in golden splendor during that hour, but the tears that Mary wept were enough to shadow the sun. And, I imagine her with that jar of spices that weighed more than the world itself. I imagine the heaviness of every single step that drew her sobbing heart closer to the tomb. The thick eyes from tears, the tired soul from grief, the aching head from the stress.
Because you don’t loose Jesus without thinking the world is going to end or wishing that the world would end.
Those wise men brought myrrh when Mary heaved a baby into the world. And, Mary Magdalene brought myrrh to his death chamber.
Who can bear the weight of that kind of responsibility?
To bring life into this world.
To bring closure to a life.
Oh, Mary. Mary. How you weep for the pain of Love lying in a death chamber. When all that was good was dead and the sunshine of his smile had faded and Hope was cold, all that was left was to bring that stinking myrrh.
And it does not seem like enough. Does it?
I remember when you broke that alabaster jar of essence on his feet and wiped away the day’s heaviness. How the scent spread throughout the room. How his tears filled and flowed and washed away every stupid mistake and dirty deed that you had done. How his presence reached down deep into your soul, and you knew that He saw there the one that God created you to be.
Not the woman that you had chosen to be.
Not the woman that others had forced you to be.
So you came with that stinking myrrh in the dark dawn, because you don’t loose Jesus without wishing that your world would end.
We know how the story goes. The words that come next. The gardener who inquires. The answer that Mary gives. We know it so well that we miss its power.
I wonder when the women with her and the disciples that she ran to caught the force of the command? Jesus told Mary to go and to tell. Go and tell. The first words spoken by the resurrected Christ are to a woman and they are, Go and tell.
You see, the world speaks to us in languages and voices and images that would define our ideas of worth and beauty. Mommy blogs and books and sometimes the voices from the pulpits and the pews can define the perimeters of our ministry.
‘We are women who CAN …,’ we say.
‘You are a woman and therefore CANNOT …,’ they say.
And the words are just people-words until Jesus speaks. Until the Word speaks. Go and tell.
A woman’s word meant nothing in that ancient culture, but Jesus stubbornly points us to a woman over and again.
Mary with her heaving to birth the incarnated Christ into the world. Mary Magdalene with her stinking myrrh to lavish upon a dead Jesus. Women. Women who had no idea how God intended to use them in His story, yet there they are pointing the way to Jesus from conception to resurrection.
We can debate the issue theologically. We can text proof and exegete Paul’s letters.
But ultimately, it comes down to the story in the garden.
God trusts a woman with the responsibility of carrying the Good News into the world both at his birth and at his resurrection.
Do not be afraid, Mary.
Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers …
From Luke 1. From Matthew 28. From conception to resurrection. We are called to point the way to a world that has lost Jesus. We are sent and we have no need to fear.
That, my dear sister, is how the story goes.
Now, go and tell.
Ten days from now, I will be kneeling at an altar to be ordained as a minister in the Church of the Nazarene. Those words in the garden to a weeping woman with a stinking jar of grave spices reach down through the centuries. I am called. Jesus is calling me. Go and tell.
I dedicate this post to the 82 women who gathered in Sighisoara, Romania last week. We came from the farthest parts of our European and Asian globe and we settled into the heart of Transylvania. We came with the weight of the world on our shoulders. We carried it in and we carried it around, but somehow Jesus took that weight from us.
We laughed and we learned and we worshipped the One who has called us and equipped us.
We are not enough for this task. A world that has lost Jesus requires more help than we can possibly provide. We teach, we preach, we bandage bodies and souls and care for kids that nobody else wants unless sex is an option. And our efforts alone are not enough. They can never be enough.
We know the impossible situations, the heart break, the broken and dysfunctional cycles, the sin that works in our cultures. It seems like such a hopeless story. Yet, God has called each and every one of us.
Remember what Mary said to the angel, Gabriel. ‘But how can this be?’
Only the incarnated Christ in you is enough. Only the incarnated Christ flowing through you is enough.
Let him write His story through you.
Go and tell.