Monday, March 31, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. If you haven’t seen it, rent it you won’t be sorry. The movie ends with a kissing scene. And as the lovers embrace the narrator says, “In all history there have been five kisses rated the most pure, the most passionate, and this one blew them all away.”

Embraces that are pure and passionate are at times a joy to witness, while at other times they are gut wrenching to watch.
  • When a father steals a moment with his “little girl” before he gives her away to “another man” she will soon call her husband…
  • When a mother leaves her student at school for the first day of class, be it freshman orientation at university or the first day of kindergarten…
  • A sailor with his bride before he deploys…
  • A family with loved one before she is wheeled away into surgery…
  • Dear friends at their farewell party…

HUGS—are powerful to witness and even more powerful to experience.

Perhaps the last thing she planned to experience was an embrace. And as things worked out when she thought she would receive one it was denied her. “Don’t hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.” Jesus was dead. He had been in the tomb since Friday. Mary returned at first light Sunday, the day that would come to be known as Easter, to mourn and give the corpse the proper anointing it had been denied with the hasty pre-Sabbath burial.

Just imagine Mary’s shock at finding Jesus alive. He is Risen! Just imagine her joy as she rushed to wrap her arms around him. Just imagine her confusion when it was refused. “Don’t hold on to me.” What one would natural expect at this point is to hear the narrator of the story say, “In all history there have been five hugs rated the longest, strongest and most enduring, and this one blew them all away.”

Jesus wasn’t trying to hurt Mary. Not by a long shot. His words can best be translated, “Don’t continue to grasp on to me physically, for I have not yet returned to my Father. Mary I will be with you always. Things, however, will not be the same. My presence will be with you forever, but not physically as it has been up till now. Mary was told that she was going to have to learn to let go of Jesus, so that she could go for Jesus. “Go to my brothers and tell them I am going to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”

Mary, let go, as hard as it had to be. Mary, didn’t hold on, even though she desired to I’m sure. Mary instead, held by the One the grave could not hold, went and held the news of Christ’s resurrection up to the disciples and the world has never been the same.

There is an application in this text that is rather important for us individually and collectively. It is an application that doesn’t come without fear, pain, or frustration. Which I suppose is in keeping with the text; after all I am sure Mary experienced all three when confronted with the need to let the hug end and the risen Lord “go.”

Individually the application is a simple question, what do you need to let go of so you can go for Christ? Is there anything you are holding on to that is keeping you from holding up Christ? Past hurt or past shame; dead dreams, fear about tomorrow or painful memories; bitterness, resentment or a grudge; pride, arrogance or the need to always be right any of these could be something that needs be let go of.

Collectively it is the same question. Is there anything as a congregation we need to let go of? A myopic view of our wants and needs over a global view of our call and mission; a focus upon the likes of the churched above the needs of the un-churched; a slavish dedication to what we want rather than a stewards dedication to what we have to give any of these could be things that ought not be held on to if we are to hold Him up.

But be assured of this, while letting go isn’t easy, through it Christ changes the world as we embrace Christ by faith, know that we are held by the One the grave could not hold and let go of that which hinders us in going for Him.


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