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           From the Vicarage


I see that a new film has come out about the life of Mary Magdalene and as ever when figures from the Bible are depicted on screen opinions are divided. I haven’t seen it so I will suspend judgement.

Mary Magdalene has had a bad press over the centuries, even being confused with the unnamed repentant prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her (scandalously loose) hair. She anointed them with ointment and in paintings Mary is often shown with a jar of ointment. And modern writers have projected their own ideas onto her from Jesus Christ Superstar to the Da Vinci Code. 

What we do know about her is that Luke tells us Jesus cast out seven demons from Mary. He had cured her of some ailment -whether mental or physical we do not know- and she became his devoted follower. She along with his mother Mary and Mary’s sister, another Mary, was there at the foot of the cross, with him to the very end.

Then it was Mary Magdalene who went to the garden on that first Easter morning and found the tomb empty, she met her risen Lord and was commissioned by him to go back to the disciples and tell them he was alive, he had risen from the dead.  Mary was the first witness to the resurrection and the first to share the joyful news. A woman, any woman, was not the most obvious witness to choose, let alone one who would come to be seen as having a dubious past; but Mary it was who became the apostle to the apostles.

We will celebrate that life changing, life affirming resurrection joy in church on Easter morning but perhaps we ought to be out in a garden somewhere, the acclamation shout of ‘Christ is risen’ not from the lips of a priest but from the lips of an outsider, somebody who has had a dark and difficult time in their past and about whom neighbours will post unkind and untrue things in social media. Because one of the most startling things about the good news of Jesus Christ is that it is for everybody. He changed the life of Mary Magdalene and he is still changing lives today. 

With every blessing,