After listening to the sermon, read John 20:1-18. Reflect on Mary Magdalene’s reactions to Jesus. Why do you think she didn’t recognize him? Was it grief? Did he look differently than the way he had in life? Mary recognized Jesus when he called her by name. What she thought had been lost was suddenly found. What joy she must have felt! Have you ever happened upon a message from a loved one who has died? Perhaps it was a letter that they wrote to you that you forgot you had. Perhaps it was a voicemail or a message on an answering machine. If this has happened to you, remember the joy you felt when you discovered that message. Remember the joy of hearing their voice or imagining it as you read. That joy is what Mary felt when she heard Jesus say her name. She had missed what was right in front of her, and yet, Jesus did not turn away. He made sure she recognized him.

As we reflect on Mary’s grief and joy, we recognize that we are all grieving in some way. There have been many moments of grief over this difficult season. And while at times this grief may have felt overwhelming, there have also been moments of joy.

What are you grieving? Where have moments of grief surprised you over the last year?

What moments of joy have you found in this difficult season? Who has brought you joy?

Mary could have allowed herself to be swallowed by her grief. She could have allowed the blinders of grief to remain on. And she would have missed the Risen Savior entirely. But when Jesus called her name, she recognized him. She had found the Risen Savior! When we allow our grief to swallow us, when we shut out any joy and allow the pain to overtake us, we miss all that God is doing. We miss the Risen Savior and allow our circumstances to hold us captive.

Is something holding you captive? What do you need to leave behind?

When we leave behind the things holding us captive, our grief, our pain, our judgments about others, and allow the Resurrection to permeate our lives, it is not only our lives that change. When we allow the Resurrection to change us, the lives of those around us can change as well.

How does the resurrected Christ affect your everyday life? In what ways are you living the Resurrection? In what ways are you ignoring the Resurrection?

Mary did not keep the news of the Resurrection to herself, but immediately went to the disciples to share the Good News with them. She pulled them from their grief and helped them see the joy around them.

Like Mary, we can help others see the Resurrection. We can help others see the ways in which God is still working. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t allow others to grief. But rather, we come alongside them in their grief, grieving with them but also reminding them that grief is not the end of the story. 

Are there unexpected places where you have found examples of the resurrected Christ? Are there people who have reminded you of the joy that we have because of the Resurrection? 

Prayer: Loving God,

We are grateful that our grief is not the end of the journey. You tell us that You will turn our mourning into dancing and will clothe us with joy. Help us to see Your joy even as we mourn. Help us to see the ways in which You are working in our lives. Help us to live differently because of the Resurrection. Change our lives, O Lord. Amen. 

Sermon By: Kristen Koger, pastor for Children and Families, First Baptist Decatur, Decatur, GA

Devotion By: Jessica Asbell Oravec, minister to Children and Families, First Baptist Roswell, past president, BWIM of GA, BWIM GA: