“Being Present” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I hope this week is finding you well and filled with the many emotions that accompany Holy Week. While this time in our faith lives is joyous, getting to Easter can be hard so I invite you to journey with The Park all week at our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday services.
I love the ballet. It is a form of art that has always spoken to me. When I used to be a singer I would always choreograph exquisite ballets in my head to the songs I was singing. I think I like ballet in part because it is a ministry of presence. You can know exactly what is happening, how they feel, what was expected, all by the way they show up on stage. This week as I read our texts for Easter, my mind went into my beloved habit of choreographing dance to this text. See where your mind takes you as you read the account of the resurrection as found in the Gospel according to John.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So, she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to Abba. But go to my sisters and brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Abba and your Abba, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:1-18, NRSV)
This is THE story, friends. This is the reason we are all here. The mystery and the love of Christ that transcends norms and expectations. And yet, had the women not offered their ministry of presence, had the women not been at the tomb, what a different story this might have been. This part of Jesus’s story, of our story, reminds us that we need to show up. The ministry of presence is about showing up when life is hard. The ministry of presence is about showing up when it is inconvenient. The ministry of presence is about showing up to celebrate. The ministry of presence is the women showing up for Jesus and then Christ showing up for them… and for us.
Church, as we continue on this last week of Lent, and we experience the pain of Maundy Thursday and the loss of Good Friday may we continue our commitment to a ministry and a church of presence. Let us show up for each other in church and in life this week, in the same life changing ways we will show up for each other at Easter. And may the story of the risen Christ inspire your heart, mind, and spirit in new ministries and ways to love and support each other.