Comments: The men should have believed us

"..the men should have believed us. But they did not. Not then." - Rosemary Hannah -

So what's changed, Rosemary? - except that the Holy Spirit is working through the faith of those women whose understanding of God's call upon their lives, to make a difference. Let's hope the men wake up!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 31 March 2013 at 9:54am GMT

I stole this piece for my sermon today ...thanks Rosemary! And added a bit more:

And later. In the garden. I was there alone. My eyes were tired with weeping. I couldn’t see properly. I spoke to the gardener. Sir, I said, they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.

Mary! he said. And I recognised him. And joy and love flooded through me, an avalanche of happiness. Rabbouni, I said, which means teacher. I moved to embrace him: but he drew away. Noli me tangere, he said. Do not touch me. But go to my brothers and tell them what you have seen.

I was upset by that. Of course I was, at the time. There it was: that astonishing moment, when the one I thought was dead had returned, when the misery I felt had turned into joy. Of course I wanted to fling my arms round him and hold him to me. Do not touch me, he said.

But I understand it now. It makes sense. He did leave – after that – not long after – and we were on our own. But it felt better; so much better. Because, somehow, we knew that he loved us. We knew that we were loved. As we are, and as we were. Me, Mary, the woman from whom he cast out seven demons. He loved me then. He loves me now, and he will love me always. And that’s what the others say, as well …. It makes sense to them, now. Yes, we’re on our own; but we’re not, and never will be. Every bit of us is loved. And that morning, in the garden – that was the moment it all changed. It all became different; it all became new. And nothing will ever be the same again.

Posted by Giles Goddard at Sunday, 31 March 2013 at 12:21pm GMT

"Sir, I said, they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." -- Mary Magdalene

Giles Goddard, I've often thought these were the most poignant words of the Gospel Passion stories. I can feel Mary's pain and anguish in those words. Then, Jesus says "Mary!"
The women saw and heard and understood.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Sunday, 31 March 2013 at 5:14pm GMT

I am very flattered it was stealable - I did not put John's story about Mary in because I wanted to stick to one account, and chose Luke's. I think my telling is fairly close to that single account. But I do agree on how moving John's account is. However, it is bitter-sweet, and I wanted to get to the 'alleluia' moment. And getting the women to that moment meant that I could, hopefully, pose a double challenge. Firstly, the one picked up on above, that the men failed to hear the women as some still do. Secondly, and more subtly, that the reason for believing, or not, is the way people are changed by their experiences - that we believe, or not, because of the glow on a face, the echo of angels in a voice. And that, taken together with the things over which we are concerned and how we live, is all the outside world is ever going to have to go on when they ask if what we believe is true.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Sunday, 31 March 2013 at 9:44pm GMT

'Secondly, and more subtly, that the reason for believing, or not, is the way people are changed by their experiences - that we believe, or not, because of the glow on a face, the echo of angels in a voice. And that, taken together with the things over which we are concerned and how we live, is all the outside world is ever going to have to go on when they ask if what we believe is true.'

I'm deeply resistant to this sort of appeal, and I certainly do not think it is the sort of thing we should be saying to the outside world. But you probably know that's my view, Rosemary. Happy Easter.

Posted by John at Monday, 1 April 2013 at 11:38am BST

@John - people will believe if they see us changed. If we are not - they will not. Instinctively, they believe that you know a tree by its fruits. Joy, faith, resilience, the love of others, kindness to them, the ability to work for justice and show mercy - these are things that change the attitude of people. The joy of the angels, reflected, should have convinced the disciples. Real truth remains what it was - the one way, truth, life.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Monday, 1 April 2013 at 6:03pm BST

Rosemary,

I wouldn't dispute that what you describe has some force. but I don't think it has much force. It's the first-century prescription. Life now is so much more complicated and there are so many more different possibilities and 'stories'. Christianity at least in the west badly needs gifted apologists. It's losing - perhaps has already lost - the battle for hearts and minds. We absolutely won't get such 'apologies' from the likes of Justin Welby or pope Francis, and C.S. Lewis is crude and out-dated. Spufford is better, but ...

To go back to your piece. I'm very uncomfortable when I read 'the joy of the angels'. I don't believe in angels (though I sing about them). I think serious expositions of Christianity, whether 'in-house' or for others, absolutely have to ditch unbelievable embellishments and concentrate on essentials. So for example at Christmas we can sing and read about non-existent shepherds and angels, but it is a mistake to base sermons on them.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 2 April 2013 at 5:27pm BST

Ah, but I do believe in angels - I really do. I suspect more people believe in them than believe in the more sophisticated Christian theology that 99% of people on this site believe, and I include those I deeply disagree with in that. I agree with focusing on the essentials - not on avoiding the less essential but still beautiful peripheries. When I used to preach at Christmas (island, no ferries therefore no priest) I led a genuinely all age service and always preached on John 1 - on light, on love and on the inevitable cost of love - and I am convinced that was totally right. But so are the shepherds 'right' - never more so than when the poor are being ostracised. Nor are angels a soft option. They are usually described as terrifying - but they are also exhilarating. I would never want dumbed-down angels - but oh, yes, I believe in the joy of the angels

I have no time for dumbed-down faith, for moralism-as-faith. I have no time, either, for the kind of moralism that wrecks lives. I am utterly for an inclusive church - but I also want Corpus Christi ...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Tuesday, 2 April 2013 at 11:47pm BST

I agree entirely with your last paragraph, Rosemary. In any case, there is no quarrel here.

Best.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 3 April 2013 at 8:44am BST

Its not something new , of course, but I dusted off and have been using "All Desires Known" by Janet Morley to mark the current seasons.

Got round to this one this morning, "O God of the Powerless you have chosen as your witnesses those whose voice is not heard.Grant that, as women first announced the resurrection though they were not believed, we too may have courage to persist in proclaiming your word in the power of Jesus Christ."

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 5 April 2013 at 12:18am BST
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