Earlier this year Disney who now owns literally everything interesting released the 1st season of this season of a show called Wanda vision. It’s part of the Marvel comic universe of shows. It starts with some big spoilers, which I have warned you about before with Old Yeller, but these are must more recent so… We find out that sometime before Avengers Endgame, Wanda and Vision had been in a romantic relationship, and we watch during the movie Vision is killed. When this happens Wanda goes into full-on vengeful rage towards the bad guy for the benefit of the good guys so there’s that, but you start to see there might be a problem.
In WandaVision, Wanda and Vision are living out their perfect life as understood through classic tv shows. The first episode The Dick Van Dyke show with Mary Tyler Moore, and moving to I Love Lucy. Wanda’s superhero name is the Scarlet Witch so obviously Bewitched was next, then moving to more recent shows. As the show goes on, the cracks start to show. The universe starts not making sense around them and Wanda desperately tries to hold it together. Here’s you’re big spoiler, although I don’t think it will change the impact, it turns out Wanda felt the grief at the loss of her partner and her lover was so overwhelming. And when she couldn’t take it anymore she recreated the world around her to make it not true because it’s a Marvel show and you can do that. But not for long. Not for forever. Grief, even in the Marvel Universe, requires that you experience it.
But re-writing the story in a way that you don’t have to… is sometimes really appealing.
I wonder if that is what Mary wished would happen. I think about the last few days for Mary, I wonder if she even had slept. She would have gotten up Thursday maybe she had responsibilities for helping prepare for the meal on that last time they all gathered with Jesus. And then they left and then they left and Jesus was arrested. I wonder if she stayed up all night waiting for news from Peter and the other disciple who had been inside that Courtyard.
If she had slept or those who did when they woke up by then it was almost over. The systems were already in place and by noon that day Jesus had been handed over and the execution had begun.
Mary had been at the cross as Jesus died I wonder if those events replayed in her mind. I wonder if they kept her up all night or if they woke her up with a start long before the sun rose.
I know for me that sleep from Saturday to Sunday knowing I have to be up so early and that if I wake up late there’s no way I could be on time Often means that I don’t sleep well throughout the night. Sometimes means that I don’t sleep at all and when And went 2 o’clock turns to 3, 3 turns to 4am and then I figure might as well get up and do things and start my day. I wonder if Mary had laid there so long just couldn’t be there a minute longer. And she got up and she dressed in the dark. Maybe whoever slept near her whether spouse or the other women woke up and told her it wasn’t safe to go. Maybe in their grief, they stayed asleep.
It was still dark. We have seen darkness throughout our journey in this gospel story. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. When Judas left the supper our gospel writer told us it was a night. Darkness and night for the gospel writer we’re a metaphor for all the things we don’t understand. For the difference between who we think Jesus is and who Jesus really is. For what it is to be outside of relationship with Jesus. Darkness and night are about not understanding what we think we see, because we can’t see well. The night can be full of unknowns be they good or fearful.
In the Song of Songs these beautiful love poems found in their Hebrew scriptures, the woman described describes how she goes out at night in the dark and searches for her lover. Now I’m not saying that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married or lovers, which they might have been because that is not what this is about, She had invested time and her energy and her financial resources and her hope into this man. She loved him. He was important to her And it was important for her to show up. Vision tells Wanda that grief is love persevering. It was her grief that caused her to show up.
Here’s the thing about vision, Mary’s vision not Wanda’s vision. Sometimes it is hard to see things clearly.
Mary arrived at the cemetery at the tomb when it was still dark and while she could see that the stone was rolled away she probably couldn’t see anything inside of it. I imagine it her crying not just in that moment when she meets who she thinks is the gardener but all along. Looking to the world through tear-filled eyes.
And Mary understood the world to function in one way. Maybe she had been there when Lazarus was called out from his grave maybe but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if the person who can do the thing is dead then he can’t do it again. In her world, most of the time The dead stay dead and you don’t find life in a cemetery.
In her vision of the world and this time before the light and her sight through the tears she doesn’t see the angels for who they are. And she sees Jesus as a gardener. She sees what she expects to see. The world as she has always understood it.
Look there are a lot of stories of men in The Bible and Christian history is full of them, so I’m mostly going to ignore the two that run to the tomb and then look in and go in and see the death clothes. There’s a really good sermon there about how we need each other to fully understand resurrection that we’re not going to get to today. But then they just go home. Like they understand something but not enough to go looking for it.
But Mary stays. In her grief, her love that perseveres, she stays. And in her grief, Jesus meets her there. And as the sun rises and as the day breaks as light begins to flood the world around her, Jesus speaks her name and she begins to understand. And we remember that Jesus said I am the gate and I am the good shepherd and the shepherd knows the sheep by name, calls them by name and the sheep recognize his voice.
Everything for Mary has changed, In a way she doesn’t even understand yet. The whole world has changed, But what Mary knows Jesus showed up and met her in this place of grief and pain And brought hope and peace and a possibility of new life.
Here’s the thing I did kind of struggle again they’ve struggled again this week with a sermon. Because the resurrection is a big deal, it is the big deal of the Christian church, and it is a cosmic significance. And we can talk about the victory over death and sin and evil and it is important and it is true. And that might be the Easter morning you are hoping for a full brass band and parades and whatever else we do on Easter morning. But I also know that there are a lot of us Who have been going through some grief, who are living in the midst of struggle or of sickness or disappointment. Living with hopes dashed, plans that will never come to fruition. We have been watching war and destruction half a world away, and we have watched violence in cities across the country and just down the road. We have struggled through two years of a pandemic where some have lost beloved family members and friends. Some have lost The resources and means to care for their families. What good is a theological treatise on the cosmic implications of the Resurrection, when I can’t see any hope?
Mary lingered there and felt all those feelings, all of the difficult things that were happening. And Jesus met her there, spoke her name, and called her into the light of a new life. Now I believe God will meet us wherever we are. It was a particular act of resurrection for Mary and it is an act of resurrection for us when Jesus shows up and speaks our name into our darkest moments and revives hope. New life can begin when we believe that the way things are in this moment are not the way they will always be. And we may not fully understand what that means but we’re just starting to see the light.
Mary takes that hope and takes that resurrection and takes a bit of light and understanding that is starting to grow and she begins to share. She takes this hope to the other disciples, the men and women who were trapped inside with their grief and hopelessness were met with the light and hope of resurrection. She tells the story of the God who showed up in her darkest moment and spoke her name. And that is the start of the church Jesus showing up and bringing new life and her new hope in dark moments and Mary showing up for the others. What if that’s part of our call for love to show up, to call each other by name, to name each other beloved children of God, and to offer hope and resurrection that the way things are today are not the way they will always be?
Beloved, you are a child of God. You are not alone, you are met wherever you are, even in your darkest places, You are known by the creator of the universe, by the God who chose to live and abide among us and in us. Jesus meets us and calls us by name.
When Mary saw Jesus she embraced him and I think he hugged her back but he told her not to hold on because things were not yet as they were going to be and they were never going to be like they were. New life means things are going to change. It means maybe for a little while longer we will be walking into some unknown. But maybe we will trust but we will not fully understand. it takes time. But you are not alone. You are known and you are loved. And the light has come. Resurrection is bringing something new into all your moments, meeting you, calling you by name, bring hope. May we be that for each other too.
Christ is risen, indeed.