It’s only a couple weeks away. Baking, wrapping, and packaging. Mailing, singing, and giving. Parties, church services, and family dinners. Frantically running, exhaustedly buying, tension and family stress is building. Everything is pointing to that final day, December 25, when we will culminate with cries of Christmas joy. But the closer we get, the more frustrated we seem to become. Because all of our attention is pointed at a day that does not last long enough. It is almost more disappointing than joyful. And as soon as Christmas arrives, December 26 follows—and the celebration is over.
We find our sister Mary Magdalene, also hurrying around with final preparations in John 20. Hers, of a different sort. Jesus has been crucified and laid in a dark tomb of death. But yet there is still so much to be done. The body must be prepared with spices and ointments. The prayers must be said as respect and love honors her Lord. She gets up early to take care of the things that will make this occasion special, but the closer she gets, the more frantic she becomes. All of her attention is pointed at a day to properly honor the death of a loved one, and this day seems to be over before it began.
Wailing, weeping, screaming for the others, Mary searches for her Lord. Where have they put him? She can’t see him anywhere! The stone was gone. Jesus was gone. There is nothing to remember, and the whole rollercoaster of emotions and preparations seem to be pointless. Crying blindly, holding on tight to her spices, she wanders around the garden where Jesus came to die.
Also this Advent, we may wander blindly with Mary. Weeping silently for a “reason for the season,” lamenting about commercialism, we may still muster a hushed scream for the others as we also search for our Lord. Where have they put him? We can’t see him anywhere! The stone was gone. Jesus was gone. And the many years of searching for Jesus during the frantic season of Christmas has left us a little apathetic. There might be nothing worth remembering and nothing more to expect, so the whole rollercoaster of emotions and preparations must be pointless. Shrugging blindly, we still wander around the ancient garden where Jesus came to die.
“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Mary was hopeless. She was looking for a dead man. She was expecting him to lay breathless on a stone. But here He breathes over her unbelieving eyes while calling her name, “Mary.”
Just like Mary, He breathes on our unbelieving eyes, in our weeping, in our silent crying, in our apathy. Jesus calls your name and writes it in the book of life, for eternity. Suddenly, by His Word, we see He has been standing there the whole time. We didn’t have a chance to prepare things for the season of His coming. We didn’t have an opportunity to open our hearts to His call. Jesus is already risen from the dead, He has already restored us to life, and He comes again today to say it.
“Mary,” the Lord says. And in that moment, she sees the glorious day that will never end. This is why Jesus was born into our world, walked blamelessly before God and men, died for the sin of the whole world, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. Even during the frantic preparations for Christmas, even in the middle of apathetic doubts of the season, Jesus has already come to call you.