Easter Sunday: Seen
A Reflection for Easter Sunday by Jan Richardson. Click HERE for the original post.
15 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.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus 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.’” 18Mary 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 20.15-18
I never fail to be dazzled by this moment when Jesus calls out the name of the woman whom he finds weeping by his tomb. Mary. At the sound of her name, the Magdalene finally sees and knows who has found her there. It is a stunning moment of recognition.
Yet as I spiral back around this passage this week, what draws my attention is not only the way that Mary Magdalene sees Christ when he calls her name. What tugs at me this time is how, in that moment of hearing her name, Mary Magdalene must see herself.
With an inflection that only Christ could have given to it, his speaking of her name conveys everything: all their history, all that passed between them in their friendship, all that he knows of this woman whom he healed and who, along with other women, traveled with him and sustained him from her own resources. He knows her. He sees her. And now he asks her to see herself as he does.
In that moment, and in the call and commissioning that will soon come, the risen Christ gives Mary Magdalene to herself. Not, of course, as if he owns or controls her but because, as ever, he knows her and wants to free her from what would hinder her from the life that God desires for her. Long ago, Jesus had released the Magdalene from the septet of demons that haunted her. (“A demon for every day of the week,” writes Kathleen Norris; “how practical; how womanly.”) Now he releases her again, this time from clinging to him, from becoming entangled with him. Where holding onto him might seem holy, Christ sees—and enables Mary Magdalene to see—that her path and her life lie elsewhere. Beyond this moment, beyond this garden, beyond what she has known. In going, Mary affirms that she has seen what she needed to see: not just Christ in the glory of his resurrection, but also herself, graced with the glory that he sees in her.
In the centuries to come, Mary Magdalene will become layered over with other visions that people have of her: other titles, other depictions, other names. Sinner, prostitute, penitent, bride: the stories and legends of who the Magdalene was and what she became will both fascinate us and frustrate our ability to know her. But on this day, the Magdalene we meet in the garden is simply one who has learned to see, and who goes forth to proclaim what she has seen.
This day, what will we allow ourselves to see: of Christ, of ourselves? How would it be to know ourselves as he does, to see ourselves as he sees us, to know that the risen Christ speaks our name, too, and releases us to tell what we have seen? What will you proclaim as you leave the empty tomb this day?
A Blessing for Easter Day
You had not imagined
that something so empty
could fill you
and now you carry
like an awful treasure
or like a child
that roots itself
beneath your heart:
how the emptiness
will bear forth
a new world
that you cannot fathom
but on whose edge
So why do you linger?
You have seen,
and so you are
You have been seen,
and so you are
There is no other word
There is simply
There is simply
“Despite all the pain that Jesus suffered on the cross, there is beauty in it all.” Dana Wiegner, The Neighbourhood Church, Surrey, BC.
A beautiful reminder for us this Easter that the cross is crucial, but not final. Christ has overcome.
Partner Spotlight: Carey Theological College
Holding the Ropes
“… Carey Theological College wishes to be holding the ropes for you”
Wiliam Carey, often called the father of the modern missions movement, told his good friend, Adam Fuller, before leaving for India, “I will go down into the pit, if you will hold the ropes.” For the next two decades until his death, Fuller tirelessly supported his good friend, serving, fundraising and inspiring William Carey to persevere in his ministry.
Who holds the ropes in your life? Who inspires you in your ministry? Among your supporters, prayer partners, and friends, Carey Theological College wishes to be holding the ropes for you, also.
Carey Theological College has helped hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders by providing accredited Master’s and Doctoral level theological education for over three decades. Last year, through the generous support of our donors, it was an honour to be able to offer a tuition-free start to over 90 highly-qualified students to jumpstart their studies.
We wish to provide CBWC pastors and ministry leaders with early access to two new opportunities coming this September.
The first opportunity provides qualified students with 8 tuition-free foundational courses in Bible, Theology, and Church History. These courses may be used towards a Master of Arts, or Master of Divinity degree if you wish to continue your studies.
The second opportunity provides ministry leaders with a Master’s degree to pursue doctoral level courses towards an Advanced Diploma for half the regular tuition fee. Advanced Diplomas may then be extended towards a Doctor of Ministry degree.
In addition to this new opportunity, Carey Theological College continues to offer CBWC pastors with free online access to its 10,000-volume online library to help prepare sermons and further their professional development.
As you pursue your ministry, Carey Theological College considers it a privilege to hold the ropes for you by providing high-quality, accredited theological education. Please prayerfully consider these opportunities to engage with us in our shared ministry for the people of God.
If you would like to know more about how Carey is advancing in our mission to re-imagine Christian discipleship, we invite you to take a look at our latest video below:
By Jenna Hanger
The change to spring is one of my favourite times of year. There is something refreshing about the warm weather slowly melting the frozen landscape left behind from winter. Birds start to flock back, thoughts turn to planting, colours begin to emerge as flowers start to open and green takes over the previous naked branches and buried lawns.
On the ranch, the signs of new life are evident all around as animals start to give birth. We have over five-hundred head of cattle on our farm. At the end of March, a few newborns can be spotted; by the second week of April, we are full blown into calving season.
It’s a favourite time for all of us. We all love quadding out to the field and seeing all the calves—some wet with afterbirth, standing on shaky legs, others running around like pups, playing and kicking as they experience their first taste of life.
You can’t help but feel positive in the face of all that. It is a strong reminder that no matter what is happening in the world, life continues on. The sun rises and sets, new seasons come and go like waves hitting the beach. New life begins. It’s a beautiful and powerful thing to witness—especially after a long winter, which was preceded by a long season of uncertainty, hostility and division. We all have felt it—in our friend groups, families and churches. A friend of mine has started to refer to it as “The Great Divide.” She isn’t wrong. It feels as though disunity has infiltrated all areas of our lives. There has been a lot of anger, a lot of feeling wronged and a lot of hurt.
Now, though, we get to take a breath. Though the pandemic is not over, there is a slow easing into familiar ways. There is a general feeling that the worst is behind us with regards to the pandemic—we can look forward and start picking up the pieces left behind by clashing ideas and warring sides—and we desperately need to. The world has been shaken once again by the implications of Russia invading Ukraine—now more than ever we need to fight for unity and love.
As we enter this season of new life, I hope we all can take a deep breath and begin anew as well and remember the most important commands Jesus left for us; Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength—and love your neighbour as yourself.
The Gift of Growing
By Jenna Hanger
As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of the earth. This means more than just recycling and trying to curb your ecological footprint. This means wisely using the resources the Lord has given us—it means producing food to feed the hungry, tend and care for the fertile land we are blessed with, and use it to honour the Lord. In a word, it means gardening.
Gardening is an important biblical practice on many levels. In their document Why Every Church Should Plant A Garden… And How! the Christian conservation group A Rocha lays out a clear and convincing case why gardening is important.
They state, The Bible is strong on gardening. Whether in Genesis, Jeremiah or the Gospels, gardens play a prominent role in God’s plans. It even starts in one. A garden is a wondrous place where we can “meet” with the Lord and marvel at His miracles. It’s a place to love your neighbour, care for creation and grow veggies.
They proclaim church gardens can be so much more than a way to grow food for food banks, have a healthier diet and promote community. They say it also can be a way to celebrate the bounty of God’s good earth and a way to honour and care for people and the planet.
Broadmoor Baptist Church in BC is an example of a church who has embraced community gardens.
Jo-Ann Matiachuk started the gardens nearly 11 years ago. It has grown from just her, to four plots, to twelve—plus a large designated food bank garden. The spots are quickly filled each year. A few are from the congregation, but mostly spots are filled by neighbours in the community. Each of the gardeners are asked to help tend to the food bank garden. They are also encouraged to share their own harvest with those in need.
“The purpose really, first and foremost, is stewardship,” Jo-Ann said. “We have a property that much of it is unused. It seemed a shame because there are a lot of townhouses around here and apartment buildings where people don’t have their own area to garden. It just seemed like a way to share and be good neighbours.”
Jo-Ann said that aside from other things, it’s also healthy on many levels—spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. It also promotes neighbourliness and provides opportunities to have significant conversations with people.
Crescent Heights Baptist Church in, AB (CHBC), is another church who has seen the value in community gardens.
Sunnye Kay, a deacon at CHBC, has been the one to head up volunteers, encourage participation and manage much of the maintenance. In 2020, the youth group was awarded a grant from the city, which allowed them to construct some raised garden beds. The vegetable gardens are planted each spring with the help of the young children in the church. The bounty is shared with the church family, people coming to the church requesting help, and donations to the Calgary Community Fridge.
Prior to that, the church had planted some perennial garden beds on the west and south sides of the church. Staff from local businesses often stop to have their lunch on the benches or stairs to enjoy the green space. Pastor Tyler hosted weekly ‘tent meetings’ in the garden during Covid to safely see parishioners.
Sunnye said she loves working in the garden as she often has the chance to visit with neighbours in the community. She said the gardens provide opportunity to step outside the church building and show the love of Jesus to those passing by, and the harvest is impactful as well.
“The fresh vegetables are such a gift. If you plan well, weekly harvests can be made,” Sunnye said. “In the centre of the city, it is so calming to see a space with growing things—it’s a hopeful, caring and inviting space.”
Kitsilano Christian Community, BC also had similar motives when they built a new growing space after receiving a grant in 2021. They wanted to create a place that would invite the community to engage in their space, without having an expectation of them entering the church building.
The garden features 4 accessible garden boxes for community gardeners, a blueberry & squash patch, a pollinator garden box and one garden box used for growing food to give away. In the centre of the garden is a picnic table that welcomes anyone to come and rest.
“We are a city church with lots of apartment buildings within our neighbourhood, which means most of our neighbours have little to no outside space,” Nadia VanderKuip, Kits church administrator said. “We have found that the garden is an entry point into conversation with our neighbours, a gift to those who walk by and a chance to share in the food grown.”
If your church is interested in starting a community garden, we encourage you to check out the resources available at A Rocha.
For more resources regarding Creation Care. Check out the JMN webpage here.
CBWC’s gap year discipleship experience, Kurios, is nearing the end of its second cohort. Over the past months, we’ve been thrilled to hear about what’s been happening in life and heart of each Kurios student, and are grateful for this opportunity to share a story especially close to our hearts. Today, we’ll meet Kiarash, a Kurios student from Emmauel Iranian Church, one of our church plants in BC.
~Cailey Morgan, CBWC Church Planting
Hey! My name is Kiarash, and I am 18 years old. I enjoy photography, videography and occasionally like to play the drums.
Because of my dad’s job when I was younger, my family had the opportunity to frequently travel abroad. This allowed my family to be introduced to Christianity—in our home country, Iran, the freedom to practice any religion was and is still forbidden. As such, my parents were able to be introduced to Christians and Christianity in other countries, such as Korea, while doing their travels. When they returned to Iran, through some missionaries, they managed to find a few other Christians who would gather at each others’ houses every week in secrecy to worship and study the Bible in what is known as “Home Churches.”
When I was 7 years old, after the arrest of our pastor in Iran, my family made the reluctant choice to flee the country in a matter of weeks, to Turkey. Through the help of the UN Refugee Agency, we were then able to get accepted into Canada in 2014. We were sponsored by Pastor Arash Azad at a time where Emmanuel Iranian Church only consisted of 10-20 people.
Through that period, my family was able to again connect with other Christians going through similar circumstances as us. So, growing up I was always surrounded by Christians, and at some point, 7-year-old Kiarash decided that he wanted to have the same thing my parents had. I openly accepted Jesus into my heart.
Having been there from almost the beginning of the church, has been a fantastic opportunity to see how Emmanuel Iranian Church has grown from the start and where they have gotten to now. You can see the growth through the 40+ baptisms that they do every few months.
I was first introduced to Kurios through my pastor, who thought it would be a great opportunity for me to gain that solid foundation on what it means to be Christian. It was also at a point in my life when I simply had no idea what I wanted to do. Going into this program, I was not sure what I was anticipating, but I know now that it has exceeded every expectation I could have had, and I am extremely grateful for that.
One of the best aspects of Kurios has to do with it being very mobile. One of my favourite memories involve the first week of the program, where we took a one-week camping trip down to Kananaskis. It was a wonderful experience being constantly surrounded by nature and seeing God’s beautiful creation firsthand; it was also very giving in terms of building relationships with people that I am now grateful to call ‘family.’ The biggest thing I have learned is that God is God and I am not, as well as the importance of putting all your trust in Him.
For me, taking a gap year has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! I truly do not know what I would have been doing instead of coming to Kurios. In my opinion, a program like Kurios can be perfect for someone who is still searching for their passion and can be one of the best ways to figure out what God has called them to do.
Visit kurios.ca for more details on this great opportunity. They’re accepting applications for the 2022-23 year now!
Theology for the Ordinary – New Podcast!
Join hosts Mark Doerksen and Cindy Emmons as they host Dr. Ed Neufeld in the CBWC Theology for the Ordinary podcast series on the Book of Revelation. Ed will take a redemptive-historical view as he leads us through this fascinating book. Pastor at Kleefeld Christian Community and Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies at Providence Theological Seminary, Ed loves to study the Bible and help others understand it. Our hope is that you will come out of this series encouraged and strengthened as we better understand and apply the Book of Revelation in our own contexts.
To listen to the first episode, click HERE.
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