March 31, 2013

Spoiler Alert!

Filed under: Lectionary — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 1:00 am

It never gets old. No matter how many times I hear Luke’s painful account of the women’s pre-dawn visit to Jesus’ tomb, I never fail to be drawn into the depths of their grief. The beauty of their discipleship overwhelms me. It’s over. There’s nothing left for them to do but for the one thing they can do: They can honor the body of their beloved teacher with the rituals of their Jewish faith.

Their sorrow haunts me. It’s all I can do not to shout out loud:

Hang in there!

It’s OK.

I’ve read ahead.

I know the ending.

It’s OK.

But of course those who live history in real time don’t get to read the spoiler. Our foremothers in faith had no way of knowing that they were about to receive good news—the good news. Good News that would change the course of human history. And they would be the first to hear it…and the first to proclaim its truth.

The other thing that draws me into this reading is its shape.

The women set out on a pilgrimage—a journey to a holy place, taken as an act of devotion, thanksgiving, or penance, or in search of healing.[i] Not all of them complete the journey. When they come to tomb, only Mary Magdalene moves into the Center, where she encounters the Risen Christ.

But as with a labyrinth walk, Mary’s journey doesn’t end there. It is only half finished. She can’t just walk away changed, go on with life on a new path. She must retrace her steps back toward the community in order for her experience of transformation to be complete.[ii]

It doesn’t matter that the others don’t believe her, that Peter and John try reasonable explanations—somebody must have already been there when you arrived; the body has been moved; probably grave robbers. For the rational mind, there simply has to be an explanation.

So for now the truth belongs to Magdalene and to her alone. It is hers to hold. It is her turn to ponder things in her heart, as Mary the Mother of Jesus did at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The Good News is hers to shout, hers to share, hers to hold fast.

Now she knows the spoiler.

She is ahead of the others.

They’ll get there.

It’s OK.


Living God, long ago, faithful women proclaimed the good news of Jesus’ resurrection,

and the world was changed forever.

Teach us to keep faith with them, that our witness may be as bold, our love as deep,

and our faith as true.

[i] Kautz, Richard. A Labyrinth Year: Walking the Seasons of the Church. Harrisburg: Morehouse. p. xiv.

[ii] Ibid. p. xv.


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