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Reflection Title: 
Eden Recovered
Reflection Content: 

An encounter in a garden. Mary had come to anoint the body of her friend, the proper preparation of one who has died, and what was normally done before burial. Jesus had been crucified, hung between heaven and earth, suspended out of the normal order of the world. So she came seeking to set right the indignity that had befallen her friend, teacher, and loved one. This garden story reverses that earlier one where Adam and Eve fled from Eden, from communion, from God. They were gardeners, too. In this story, instead of banishing, the angels welcome Mary, asking who she is seeking. The tomb is empty. The burial shroud left behind. Just as God calls the name of Adam and Eve in the garden, so in this story Jesus calls the name of Mary. Adam and Eve can no longer hear their name because they are so overwhelmed with shame. Mary is able to hear her name, despite whatever shame had once defined her. Mary of Magdala is the second Eve, just as Jesus Christ is the second Adam.

Story Title: 
Who Are You Looking For?
Story Content: 

Mary stood at the tomb outside, weeping. As she wept, she peered into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the heard, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They said to her, “Why are you weeping?” She answered, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have laid him.” With these words she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but did not recognize him. Jesus said to her, “Why are you weeping? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking it was the gardener, she said, “If it is you, sir, who removed him, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said, “Mary!’ She turned to him and said, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “My Master”).

—John 20:11–17a

Contemporary Story Title: 
Passing By
Contemporary Story Content: 

Gene Weingarten. “Pearls Before Breakfast.” Article from The Washington Post. 2007.

On January 12, 2007, Joshua Bell (born 1967), one of the world’s finest violinists, participated in an experiment with the Washington Post to see if people would recognize him playing the violin incognito at a busy D.C. subway station during rush hour. The experiment was videotaped on a hidden camera. Of the 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one person recognized him over the course of his 45-minute performance. 

Artwork Title: 
The Longed For, Unrecognized
Artwork Content: 

Lavinia Fontana, (1552–1614) was an Italian portraitist and the first woman painter to receive lucrative commissions and numerous acknowledgements, including a medal to honor her contribution to the arts and a membership in the Roman Academy. Noli Me Tangere, one of Fontana’s best paintings, is rendered in dark autumnal colours with luminous effects. This late Renaissance work portrays Mary Magdalene in two scenes from the narrative in the Gospels. In the left upper corner, she glimpses the empty tomb and hears the messenger declare that her friend Jesus, who had been buried two days before, is no longer there. In the foreground, we have the culmination of the encounter. At first, she asks the gardener where Jesus has been taken. Only when he speaks her name does she recognize him and fall to her knees. She wants to touch Jesus to verify her vision, but he responds with the words “Noli me tangere,” which means “don’t touch me.” Both figures are dressed in contemporary garments. Mary, with her alabaster jar, echoes an earlier narrative at the house of Simeon, where she anointed the feet of Jesus Christ. In the painting Christ, dressed as a gardener, is holding a shovel in his left hand. With his right hand he is blessing Mary, almost touching her forehead.

Question Title: 
May I snatch life from death?
Question Content: 

Taking Faith from the Sepulchre

On that later day, a woman runs to grace who earlier ran to guilt. In the evening she seeks Christ who in the morning knew that she had lost Adam. ‘Then cometh Mary and the other Mary to the sepulchre’ (Matt. 28:1). She who had taken perfidy from paradise hastens to take faith from the sepulchre; she hastens to snatch life from death who had snatched death from life.

—Peter Chrysologus, (406-450 A.D.)

Mistaken Identity

Have you ever been involved in a case of mistaken identity, even with a close friend or loved one? Perhaps you thought you knew that person well, only to be surprised by their actions in a difficult moment. Did that make you wonder if you truly knew the person at all? Maybe, as in this painting, you’ve gone looking for one person and found another. Would you be able to hear if that stranger called your name? Would you recognize who it was? If so, you might find that you have risen out of a burial place, a place of despair, into a place of new life and possibility.

Music Content: 

Ov bardeezban [O Gardener]

Armenian text and melody from the middle ages, arranged for voice and orchestra by Archbishop Z. Aznavorian.

“Ov bardeezban,” traditional chant and text, arr. Archbishop Z. Aznavorian, Joyous Light, Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano, Elmer Iseler Chamber Orchestra, Raffi Armenian, conductor, CBC Records SMCD 5215 2002. Track 17.


I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

This aria is found in the Foundling Hospital Version (1754), one of the last of George F. Handel’s (1685–1759) several versions of The Messiah. The texts are taken from the King James translation of Job 19: 25-26 and I Corinthians 15: 20.

“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” George Frederic Handel, Messiah, Susan Gritton, soprano, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh, conductor, Archiv 1997. CD 2, track 12.


I Don’t Know How to Love Him

 “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Andrew Lloyd Webber, Love Changes Everything: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, Vol. 2, Sarah Brightman, soprano, Verve 2005. Track 8.

Image Theme: 
Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

Noli Me Tangere, 1581. Lavinia Fontana, 1552–1614. 

Story Audio: 

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