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Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter
Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service
Easter Sunday 2014
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 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.’” 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.
John 20: 1-18
Acts 10: 34a, 37-43
Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23
COL 3: 1-4
The First Apostle
The gospel is clear, Mary Magdalene is the first to witness the risen Christ and the first one sent to deliver the “good news.” As such, Mary Magdalene is the first Apostle and was in fact, The Apostle to the Apostles.
Much doctrine has been constructed in an attempt to give explanation and meaning to the resurrection, but the fact remains, the resurrection is a mystery. We cannot, with reason or logic, explain what actually happened, what Mary (and eventually the other disciples) really experienced or what the significance of the resurrection might be.
As to what Mary saw and how, Jean-Yves LeLoup , in his translation of and commentary on the Gospel of Mary (2002, Inner Traditions), offers a clue:
Mary said to them: “I will now speak to you of that which has not been given to you to hear. I had a vision of the Teacher, and I said to him: ‘Lord, I see you now in this vision.’ And he answered: ‘You are blessed, for the sight of me does not disturb you. There where is the nous, lies the treasure.’ Then I said to him: ‘Lord, when someone meets you in a Moment of vision, is it through the soul that they see, or is it through the Spirit?’ The Teacher answered, ‘ It is neither through the soul nor the Spirit, but the nous between the two which sees the vision…’” Mary: 10: 7-25
In the Gospel of Mary, the nous is presented as the intermediary between the embodied self and the Holy Spirit; here interpreted as a unique collaboration between intellect, intuition and imagination, in connection with the Divine. Only those who have reached the level of anthropos (transcendence of duality and full integration of masculine/feminine, human/divine), were said to be able to see in this way. In this, LeLoup reveals the extent of Mary’s spiritual development and how she was able to be witness to the resurrection in a way, initially, only accessible to her.
Whether or not the resurrection was a literal event, the meaning to the disciples cannot be mistaken. The resurrection compelled the disciples to move beyond the death of their teacher into a new life, completely unknown to them before this time. They did not return to fishing or tax-collecting. Instead, the disciples went out to share the news of the resurrection along with the teachings of Christ what would empower others to enjoy the promise of new life. For the disciples, the resurrection became the catalyst through which they were able to believe the higher teachings of Jesus and through which they were empowered to share these teachings with others.
What are your beliefs about the resurrection?
How has the resurrection of Christ empowered you to look for the new life in every loss, disappointment and death you experience?
With this week’s scripture, you are invited to participate in an exercise in Imagination/contemplation.
- Slowly and meditatively read the above scripture from John’s Gospel.
- Re-read the story from the perspective of Mary Magdalene.
- Now, place yourself within the story as if you ARE Mary. Allow the story to unfold within your imagination, as in a daydream. Imagine every detail, the weather, what you are wearing, what you are feeling, the tomb and its surroundings. Do not censor your imagination as the story unfolds in your mind.
- After you have allowed the story to unfold in your mind and come to a natural conclusion, write the story in your journal or notebook, allowing additional details to surface as you write. Honor whatever comes through in your writing.
- After you have finished writing, go back and read what you wrote.
- Reflect on the story that emerged through your daydreaming and writing. How is the story that unfolded for you reflective of something going on in your own life? What might God be communicating to you through the unique story that emerged in your imagination? What is the guidance, comfort, support or nourishment you received from God through your story?
In Authentic Freedom we talk about the many ways in which God seeks to reveal truth to us – through opportunities for learning, intuition, dreams, daydreams, through our everyday life-experiences, synchronicities, our visual sight, spiritual sight, and through our active imagination. The gospel accounts of the empty tomb, invite us to explore, once again, these vehicles for truth, and to explore the topic of belief. It is one thing to have an experience of truth being revealed, it is another thing to believe that what we are experiencing is true. As the disciples struggled to believe Mary’s vision, and then doubted when Jesus appeared before them, we too doubt the truths that are revealed to us. The invitation during these times of doubt is to turn to God for assistance and support. When I am plagued with doubt, I use the following mantra to open to God’s support:
Lord, help me in my unbelief.
How has God revealed truth to you?
Where have you struggled to believe the truth God has revealed?
When have you struggled with doubt?
How might you employ the mantra above as a tool to help you during periods of doubt?