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Spiritual Growth

Easter: Focused on the Facts, but Missing the Story?

By Harriett Olson

This reflection is part of a series of Lenten reflections from United Methodist Women members and Women’s Division staff to accompany you to Easter. See other reflections.

Focus Scriptures
John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:1-10


The presence of the women in the Easter story continues to be a marvel and a wonder to me. Of course, Jesus the Christ has center stage in the narrative; nothing should compete with his role in the story, much less succeed in supplanting him.

However, it is remarkable that in the narrative from a patriarchal time, it is the women who move from the nearest circle around the cross to become the first witnesses at the tomb. In fact, the ancient church referred to Mary Magdalene as an Apostle due to Jesus’ direction to her to “go to my brothers and say to them…”.

Of course the women have their Easter perspective because of their dedication to their task: preparing Jesus’ body for burial. We can imagine the hurried burial as the tomb is prepared and the work is completed before sundown. We can also imagine this was the longest Sabbath day and night that the women and men who were close to Jesus ever experienced. Before first light the two Marys are on their way to the tomb to see to it that anything neglected in Friday’s hurry would be completed.

It is also the dedication to their task that causes Mary Magdalene to see the facts and miss the story, twice, or maybe three times, before the voice of Jesus reaches her. The Johannine account tells that Mary goes to Peter for help when she finds that the body is missing. Then, after Peter and John have come and gone, she encounters the angels. She doesn’t remark on their presence, but stays focused on finding the body of Jesus. Finally, Jesus speaks to her directly and she sees the truth.

Like Mary, we have a front row seat to United Methodist Women’s work as we see and serve God. We have our own assignments of weeping and anointing and witnessing. We honor God and are committed to God’s work in the world. I wonder if we are sometimes also like Mary in focusing on the facts but missing the larger story of God’s powerful grace that is extended to all.

Today, Easter Sunday, and throughout the season of Easter, let us help each other listen for the voice of Jesus in the midst of our service. While we continue to offer our prayers, presence, gifts and service to United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Church through our work together, let us also continue to listen for the voice of Jesus speaking our name.

May this Easter be a time when we are alert to the voice of Jesus and are quick to see the story of grace demonstrated in the midst of our commitment to work and service.

*Harriet J. Olson is the deputy general secretary for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Last Updated: 04/08/2010

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