He is risen! Happy Resurrection Sunday! The Lord is with us, among us, and living inside of each of us, his earthly family. Praise be to God for Sunday!

Reflecting on the resurrection seems such an overwhelming responsibility, like burping a newborn baby or paying student loans, but as I meditate on John 20:1-20, I am brought to tears with the familiarity of the story, and encouraged by the bravery of Mary. We find Mary Magdalene of John's gospel alone in the dark seeking the tomb of Jesus. It is empty, and in her fear and unbelief, she runs to tell the others. A couple of male disciples return to the tomb with her, see the empty tomb, and leave our courageous, brokenhearted Mary alone with her tears. The gift which follows is a gift perhaps only a woman could appreciate.

Jesus is the first man to ever acknowledge her intrinsic worth as a human being. He is her healer, her Teacher, her advocate, and most importantly, her friend. Mary has seemingly lost the best person in her life. Then, all of a sudden she hears her name spoken by the one she has lost...spoken only the way the one who loves her best could say her name, "Mary!"

"She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" John 20:16

Imagine her joy! Imagine Mary throwing her arms around her friend as though in a dream, in relief, and belief. Imagine our Lord embracing his friend in return, not wanting to let go, and once again, lost in human emotion, remembers he must let go. His gift to Mary is to say goodbye.

This beautiful goodbye between Jesus and Mary captivates my heart. Jesus teaches not with just authority, miracles, and parables, but he teaches us through relationship with eating, feet washing, and goodbye hugs.

Frequently, we may read John 20:17 as though Jesus is chastising Mary or giving her orders, but on this Resurrection Sunday, read this verse with more grace. Imagine Jesus is reluctant to let go of his earthly friends even though he still has more steps to take on earth before his ascension to heaven. Jesus could have simply vanished into heaven upon his resurrection to escape the pain of goodbye, but he didn't...he validated those who would continue to follow him to the ends of the earth. The best thing about Resurrection Sunday is knowing we will one day, turn around, cry out "Teacher!" and embrace our Lord. Goodbye is not forever.

Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Laurie Templeton
Children's Minister
Singing Oaks Church of Christ
Denton, Texas