“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”
Proclaiming Our Love (Mary Magdalene)
I like to imagine God speaking my name in that tender way in which Jesus spoke the name of Mary.
-Br. James Koester
This week, we’re looking at what it means to be friend of Jesus, and we’re using various people from John’s Gospel, who we know were friends of Jesus. And I’m looking today at Mary Magdalen, who’s one of my favorite characters in the Gospel of John. And specifically the story of Mary’s encounter with the Risen Lord at the empty tomb on that first Easter day.
You’ll know the story: Mary goes to the tomb, finds it empty, notices somebody in the garden, thinks it’s the gardener and asks, “Where they have put the body?” And the gardener speaks her name, “Mary.” And it’s in the speaking of Mary’s name that she recognizes the Risen Lord in the person of the gardener. And she then rushes out to tell the disciples, to tell the apostles, “I have seen the Lord.”
One of the things that I like to do when I’m praying, is to use the Jesus prayer, which you may be familiar with. You can use a prayer rope if you have one. Or you can count it off on the knuckles of your finger, or whatever. But simply to repeat the prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful unto me, a sinner.
Sometimes I’ll reduce that to simply praying the name, Jesus. And repeat it over and over and over again. Jesus. Jesus.
Occasionally, I’ll do what I call the reverse Jesus prayer. And rather than praying the name of Jesus, I’ll actually pray my own name. James. James.
We all know that when people say our names, they can say it in all sorts of really different ways. James (said sternly), is very different than, James (spoken gently). And so I as pray my name, I like to imagine God speaking my name in that tender way in which Jesus spoke the name of Mary. And when I hear God speaking my name – James, James, James – like Mary, I have an encounter with the Risen Lord, and I can then rush out to the world and say, “I have seen the Lord.”