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Summary: Mary was overcome with Grief. It was a word from the Risen Lord that released her from her grief

Coronavirus Wk 3 Easter 2020

Sermon

Today is Easter 2020 and this morning I would like to look one character in or Gospel reading

Mary Magdalene.

And I would like to see her in the light of one verse -from the New Testament – from 2 Cor 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

When Mary met Jesus she was changed.

That is the effect that Jesus has on those who will let him change them

We first come across Mary Magdalene as the woman out of whom Jesus drove seven demons (Lk 8:1-3)

And it was only at the end of the sixth century that it was first suggested that she was a prostitute

It was in Pope Gregory the Great's homily on Luke's gospel dated 14 September 591 that he said this about Mary

"She, whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark.

And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices?

... It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts."(homily XXXIII)

Anyone know what unguent is?

An unguent is a semi solid paste – a bit like ointment!

Whether or not she really was a prostitute, we don’t know.

But we do know is that when she met Jesus - her life was changed forever.

Jesus has that effect on you if you allow Him to.

She is called Mary Magdalene to distinguish her form the other three Marys mentioned in the Gospel.

She is Mary from the village of Magdala, which means in Aramaic : “a tower”

And what a tower of strength she was to the early Christian Community.

She is the first to meet the risen Lord – and it transformed her from a frightened woman to a tower of strength.

Uniquely she is a witness to Jesus death, His burial and the Empty tomb.

It is said of Mary:

“Mary's role as a witness is unusual because women at that time were not considered credible witnesses in legal proceedings

Because of this, and because of extra-biblical traditions about her subsequent missionary activity in spreading the Gospel she is known by the title, "Equal of the Apostles”.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene)

Story: When Maddy and I were in Oxfor at Wycliffe Hall, we used to go to Church in St Aldates.

About 11 years after leaving Wycliffe, I was in Oxford one Sunday and so I decided to go to the evening service at St Aldates (08-07-2012).

As I walked in. I looked at the bookrack in the entrance and saw Simon Ponsonby’s new book “Loving Mercy” – but decided not to buy it - as I would never read it.

After all, if you have ever seen my study you will know that I have many books on my bookshelf that I have not read.

So I thought why buy a new one

As I went into the Church, and who would I run into - but Simon Ponsonby himself.

“ Have you got a copy of my new book?” he said “ It’s free for clergy”

“No” I replied and he vanished off to get me a copy.

He gave it to me at the end of the service and I thanked him for the book – and I thought no more about it.

But for some reason that evening, I started to read Simon’s book – Loving Mercy.

It’s a book about how encountering Christ should transform us to care for others.

And in it, I found this fascinating story of Judson Cornwall, an American Pentecostal preacher who, after the war, was invited to speak at a renewal conference in Germany.

Let me read you what Simon wrote:

<But Cornwall had a deep seated grudge against the Germans and simply threw the invitation into the bin.

Remarkably, when his wife emptied the bin, she spotted the invitation, pressed it out and put it on his desk again.

It haunted him for days as he shuffled around it.

Finally the Spirit won and he reluctantly agreed to go.

Arriving in Germany he was not relieved of his dis-ease and the Conference centre turned out to be in the former headquarters of the SS, Hitler’s elite guard, which aroused all sorts of images and old hatreds in him.

He spent two days before the conference praying and fasting and preparing – and avoiding the Germans.

On the first night of the Conference he went down to speak and took umbrage at his translator, a somewhat stereotypical Aryan Ueberfrau – giant, buxom, blonde hair in a bun.

He spat out his sermon, so it was no surprise that it was badly delivered, badly received and died a death.

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