Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene - 2011

Our parish was dedicated on this feast day in 1884 which may explain the name, yet sadly we will never know why Mary Magdalene was chosen as our patron saint because that is not a part of our written history.  Much like our patron saint was misunderstood, people outside these doors often don’t understand us.

Mary Magdalene has been mislabeled as a prostitute or viewed as a wanton woman, depicted in the art world baring her body to the world.  Views about her range from the possible to the ludicrous.

Yet scripture does not validate these views.  What we see there is a woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons.  A woman who was broken.  In her brokenness she encounters Jesus.  In that encounter she is healed.  That healing comes as the result of the love of a savior who met her where she was.  Her response is to follow, support, and walk with Jesus all the way to the cross. 

At that cross she appears to lose her savior.  All her hopes appear to be dashed.  She mourns what will never be.  On a morning a few days later, she arrives at the tomb to prepare her Lord for burial.  Instead she finds the stone that sealed the tomb has been rolled away. As tears run down her face, the two men standing there ask why she is weeping.  She says, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and I do not know where they have laid him."  She repeats these words to a man she thinks to be a gardener.  When he calls her by name, she recognizes her Lord.  She comes to the tomb in grief which is now turned to joy. 

Yet rather than stay, she follows Jesus’ command to go, to tell, to share all that she has seen.  Imagine how different the story would be if she had stayed there and just worshipped Jesus.

Over two thousand years later we sit here in this place named for the apostle to the apostles.  We are given the chance to see and be seen by our Lord.  Do we recognize him? Do we hear him when he calls us by name? Like Mary Magdalene, we are called to share with others the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.   Do we do so?

I hear it as I listen to stories about Hannah’s House.  Tales of the CDC give me glimpses of it.  I’m sure it is there as a wee one opens her latest book from the Imagination Library.  I know it is there as a meal is dropped off to one who grieves.  I know it is there when a visit is made to one who is ill.  I know it is there when I hear about the phone call made or the card written letting one know they have been missed from this place.

I hear it in stories of our past and catch glimpses of it in our present.  Here in this place, lives have been changed one heart at a time.  As we celebrate today, I wonder, how would our community be changed if each of us shared beyond these walls?

What would happen if we each committed to share the love of Christ with our hands and feet outside these doors? 

What if we, like Mary Magdalene, worshipped Jesus and then went to tell others about him?

What if our passion to make this world a better place became a reality and not a dream?

What if we began to change lives one heart at a time outside these walls?

What if we became that cute little church with the red doors that made a big difference in our world because we share Christ’s love as we work, play, go to school, shop, golf, swim, or whatever we happen to be doing?

So I challenge you today as we celebrate our patron saint, to not only dream with me, but to begin sharing ideas and making plans about how we change our community one heart at a time.  We may be little in size, but I know we are big in love and we have a God who loves even bigger.

Tell Them

Breaking through the powers of darkness

bursting from the stifling tomb

he slipped into the graveyard garden

to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

that I have journeyed far

into the darkest deeps I've been

in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

that fear will flee my light

that though the ground will tremble

and despair will stalk the earth

I hold them firmly by the hand

through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

the globe and all that's made

is clasped to God's great bosom

they must not be afraid

for though they fall and die, he said,

and the black earth wrap them tight

they will know the warmth

of God's healing hands

in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

smelling the blossomed air,

tell my people to rise with me

to heal the Earth's despair.

-from a warm moist salty God c. Edwina Gately 1993.

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