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From fear to courage: April 8.

Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; John 20:1-18

One thing I think most Christians lean agree on is that Simon Peter is a real character: He manages to deny he knows Jesus and then become an important leader in the Christian movement. Peter's speech in Acts is a beautiful proclamation, and yet I wonder: Why didn't he mention anything about how fearful he and the other disciples were as Jesus was taken into custody by temple officials? I have seen people taken into police custody at political protests, not to mention in the sensationalized video footage of television shows such as Corps. Whenever someone is arrested, it's high drama. Emotions are all over the place: confusion, anger, fear, curiosity, defiance all go rushing through one's veins, fueled by adrenaline.

Because we know the outcome of Passion Week, there is a danger that we so ritualize its events that we forget a central truth: In the resurrection, God is reaching out to us, transforming our fear into courage. Mary of Magdala symbolizes this transformation in her role as "Apostle to the Apostles," a title given to her by Augustine. The first century Roman establishment worried that graves of people like Jesus--people executed as enemies of the empire--might become pilgrimage sites for fellow conspirators, as Dorothee Soelle explains in Great Women of the Bible in Art and Literature. A similar dynamic was present during black South Africans' struggle against apartheid, when the white minority government prohibited funeral services at the graves of young activists. Unlike the male disciples,

Mary is willing to risk everything to go to Jesus' tomb. Mary's stubborn commitment to give witness to her community's mourning and grief is inspirational. As Soelle put it: "Resurrection is the sign of a power that changes life and breaks its subservience to and cooperation with death. The resurrection has need of witnesses, for it does not function here for the sake of Jesus' return to his father, but for the sake of liberation of all people from fear and submission to the powers of death."
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Title Annotation:Living the Word: Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle
Author:Berry, Malinda Elizabeth
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Previous Article:The story made new: April 1.
Next Article:The challenge of the church: April 15.

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