In Awe of the Resurrection

Elizabeth Glass Turner

Elizabeth Glass Turner

By Elizabeth Glass Turner –

I find myself walking in the semi-dark, friends clustered around me. Our hands are full, carrying materials to preserve a corpse.

It was a long Sabbath. We were supposed to rest, so we did. But there’s no rest from thoughts of despair and grief. They follow you into every room you enter.

Like we had followed Him. We saw the miracles – the joy in strangers’ faces when Jesus spoke them well, or touched them, or called them out of tombs.

Now I’m walking to a tomb. The sun is mocking me. It sets, it rises. He’s dead. Others may say he spoke blasphemy, claiming to be God. Maybe they didn’t have loved ones who had been blind and who could see the sunrise now. But we saw them kill Jesus, and we all stumbled as the earth shook when he died, like the universe itself was responding to what happened. Someone said there was damage in the temple. The earthquake shook some tombs open.

And now we’re walking. It feels like there’s been nothing but loss and evil at play for the past few days. What can we do? We weren’t the one calling a dead man out of a tomb; that was him.

I shift my spices. We’re getting nearer, and I feel the dread of anticipation ripple through the group. We want to do this for Jesus; there’s so little we’ve been able to do the past few days, and sitting through the Sabbath gave little outlet for grief.

We can’t heal his body the way he healed so many, but we can honor it. I saw where the wealthy man buried him. He began the care. We’re here to continue it. It’s all we have left.

I lead the others through the garden. We’re close now and I’m hearing birds when the earth begins to shake again. Again? I’m on my hands and knees again for the second time in three days. The myrrh is dropped and I smell it’s strong scent while my eyes are squeezed shut, waiting for the shaking to stop, to cease and let me be still.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.28.12 AM

Courtesy of Big Book Media

My hands are clasped over my head and I hear voices around me, the other women are standing up and looking around.

I open my eyes.

There it is – only, I must be in the wrong place. It’s the tomb, I’m sure it is, but the rock has been moved. Only no one’s looking at the rock.

I’m shaking again, my knees are weak because I don’t know what I’m seeing – lightning with hands and feet? A thousand stars looking at me, blinking? I’m shaking all over, and then the light begins to speak, and it sounds like the voice is coming from the night sky, from the farthest stars, and from right next to me, at the same time.

I hear words, comforting words that calm and soothe and my hands stop shaking so badly. And then the lightning figure speaks again only this time I hear the voice but I can’t understand how the words make sense.

How does this face of fire know we were looking for Jesus? It’s telling me Jesus isn’t here, and my mind is numb as the lightning’s voice says Jesus is risen. My thoughts are stuck, I don’t understand and a quick glance shows me my friends’ shocked faces and I know I’m not alone in my daze.

Then the face turns and it’s like a prism and the figure shining so bright points into the tomb and I hear that voice echoing and close telling us to look and see where Jesus had been.

My hand still smell like myrrh. Am I still holding it? I look down at my hands and see they’re empty. I must have dropped it.

The lightning voice is speaking again and I hear it telling us to go, to go, quickly, and tell the others. I feel friends’ movement at my side and hear their feet running, running through the garden. My body’s not responding. I look down and realize my hands are clutching my head.

Look. Don’t look for the myrrh. I’m supposed to look in the tomb. Only I can’t move, and when I lower my arms, I discover my face is wet. I’m heaving sobs and can’t stop; I’m not sure why. I’m terrified, but this hope now living inside me, it won’t die. I will my legs to move, and I look down into the cavern. And then the figure wearing lightning asks me why I’m crying and my brain is stuck again. All I know is that I came with myrrh to this tomb and it’s empty and what do I say?

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

And I turn away from the tomb that doesn’t make sense and I’m still crying into my hands that smell like myrrh, when I see someone standing nearby. It must be the gardener.

That must be it. He saw something, he can tell me what happened. But I can’t ask. Instead, he asks me why I’m crying and who I’m looking for.

Please, I say. If the tomb was broken into, or that earthquake damaged it, and you carried him away, please, just tell me where. I brought myrrh. I have friends, they’re coming back, we’ll take him. Please, just tell me where.

But the gardener’s voice is different now, and he says my name – Mary.

And the world turns upside-down, only this time there’s no earthquake, because I don’t need to look for Jesus, or for my myrrh.

I’m looking at him. I hear my voice say “teacher?!” And I kneel at his feet, the feet we were going to wrap, the feet that were supposed to be still and now, with nail holes, are wriggling in front of my eyes.

And then Jesus – not in the tomb, not breathless and lifeless and cold – then Jesus tells me to go to the others with a message.

Suddenly my shaking has stopped. My feet are ready to run.

I whirl around and begin to run.

I don’t look back.

Elizabeth Glass Turner is the managing editor of www.wesleyanaccent.com and also serves as part-time campus minister of the Wesley Foundation of Wichita Falls in Wichita Falls, Texas, growing faith and making pumpkins explode with college students. Her loving husband John bakes her amazing homemade desserts and she is regularly tackled with love by 5-year-old Jack and 2-year-old Eleanor, who lately sing all the time. She enjoys writing, devouring BBC shows and attempting new recipes, crafts, and patterns.

Comments

  1. Awesome narrative; gives me goosebumps! Bless you for sharing this. May we all hear the risen Lord speaking our name, calling to us to spread the news. He is risen !!!

  2. I love your descriptive narrative of Mary’s experience of the risen Christ. I have a question…I would like to use a photo of Mary looking up that is on page 10 for my powerpoint for my message sunday. Do you know where I can get a copy and can I get permission to use it?
    Thanks
    Pastor Brian

  3. Dave Hurst says

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for providing this glimpse into the mind of the very first person called upon to share the Good News. We used your narrative in our Sonrise Service this morning (with proper attribution) and felt that it added deep meaning to the worship experience.

  4. This was read on Easter morning’s Sunrise Service at my local church. The tears were surely flowing as we felt in our hearts, not just our minds, Christ Jesus with us and how Mary felt for sure! What an amazing, description of Resurection Sunday! Thank you, Elizabeth for this.

Trackbacks

  1. […] my first-person perspective of Resurrection Day sits over at this website in honor of the traditional myrrh-bearers – the women who went to care for Jesus’ body […]

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.