Some commentary/reflections I’ve found helpful this week:
From This Is the Message, The Journey with Jesus, Dan Clendenin. (Don’t miss the great pictures at this site, also!):
I love Easter. After two thousand years of barnacle-like incrustations, institutional failures, grotesque betrayals, familiarity that breeds casual contempt, idiotic counterfeits, and watering down the astringent wine of the Gospel, Easter calls us back to the full-throated message that God sent.
From Historical Cultural Context, John J Pilch, Center for Liturgy, Saint Louis University:
…in this Gospel the Samaritan woman at the well (4:49); Martha, a "beloved disciple" (11:5, 25); and now Mary Magdalene (20:17) all receive special revelations from Jesus. While the Samaritan woman and Martha went and called others to Jesus, they were not "officially commissioned" to do so in the same way that Jesus formally commanded Mary Magdalene: "Go to my brothers and say to them ..."
Despite their different kinds of commissions from Jesus, the three women enjoy rather high status in John's community. This is all the more significant in Mary Magdalene's case because her role is unusual and rather controversial.
From Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary, Easter Day, by Paul Nuechterlein & Friends.
An intriguing connection I've run across is a comparison of this story to that of Lazarus in John 11. Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb by name, still bound up, telling others to unbind him. Jesus in John 20 comes out of the tomb unbound, with the grave clothes neatly folded up behind him, and calls Mary by name out of the tomb of her grief.
From "What Can You Expect?" V. Gene Robinson, Proclaiming Gospel Justice: Reflections on the Scriptures and Progressive Spirituality, The Witness, 2005.
When I was preparing for my consecration as the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, I was getting a lot of death threats. Preparations were being made for the consecration security, and I was asked for my blood type, so that preparations could be made for immediately beginning medical treatment on the way to the hospital, should something violent take place. I remember saying to our two grown daughters, who were worried and anxious about my well-being, "You know, there are worse things than death. Some people actually never live -- and that is the worst death of all. If something does happen, remember that the God who has loved me my whole life, will still be loving me, and I will have died doing something I believe in with my whole heart."
As I strapped on my bulletproof vest just before the service, I remember feeling blessedly calm about whatever might happen. Not because I am brave, but because God is good and because God has overcome death, so that I never have to be afraid again.
From The Bad News of Easter, the Rev. J. Barry Vaughn, PhD, merechristian.org:
We want life to be predictable, and the older we get, the more predictable we want it to be. But God finds ways to surprise, upset, and disrupt us. We prefer the sofa, the television, the internet; in short, we prefer the tomb of our own safety and comfort. But we worship a God of the living, not of the dead, a God who calls us out of the tombs of our own making. We worship a God of resurrection.
I’m meditating a lot this time around about these dangers of believing in resurrection – of really believing in the resurrection of Christ and in the possibility and even inevitability of resurrection, beyond rhetoric or intellectual, conceptual assent. What does it MEAN to really believe in and stake our lives on in the resurrection of Christ – in our lives and in our communities? What does it mean within the reality of different understandings of theological, ethical and political/social systems? Beyond the smarmy and the sentimental, how do we relate to the world and to each other within our belief in the Risen Christ?