In the service this morning, the lesson was from the Gospel of John, chapter 20, in which Mary Magdelene goes to the tomb and discovers it empty. She rushes back to the house where the rest of the disciples are staying, and the apostles Peter and John (the author of the gospel) run to the tomb, with Mary following. It is then that the angels and Jesus appear to her. In the other three canonical gospels, Mary Magdelene visits the tomb with “the other Mary” whose identity is somewhat debated (likely the mother of one of the apostles), although in Mark’s account, Salome is also with them. They find the tomb empty and are greeted by two angels and by Christ. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the women are frightened by the angels, but realise immediately that they are heavenly creatures, and remain at the tomb until the appearance of Jesus, who instructs them to return to the other disciples. Upon hearing the news from the women, the men do not believe what they have heard, and it is only with various other signs that they believe for themselves.
So, here’s the point of my ramble. I prefer the first three versions to John’s. And while John is the only author to have actually been present for the events, I’m not entirely inclined to just believe what he writes. I think it rather likely that he may have wished to include men more directly in the discovery of the resurrection, rather than reporting that he merely heard about it after the fact, and from women. And I think that it is important, in a feminist age, to remember that the writers of the other gospels had heard that it was women who discovered and believed; that it was women who first delivered “the good news”. Maybe we need to go all the way back to the very birth of the religion to find “patriarchy-free” theology, but it is there, plain as day. Just a seasonal thought, for you.
To conclude this Easter broad-cast (get it? ’cause I’m a girl!) I give you: a picture of
my humble self cooking meat! Yep, that’s me, with my skin so white I appear to be formed of some highly reflective substance, grilling ham for the congretational pancake breakfast this morning. Every year I help with the breakfast, my veggie-tarian self ends up handling meat bare-handed. Mmmm…yummy. I’m just glad it wasn’t bacon!