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amarymagdaleneI spent the 24 hours from Friday evening at 7:00 to yesterday at 7:00pm with four lovely women delving into the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. I was going to say we took time out to sleep Friday night into Saturday, but I think in situations like that even our sleep is engaged in the reflection. One of the most beautiful moments in those Scriptures takes place in the garden where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene who does not recognize him; she thinks, rather, that he is the gardener and pours out her distress that someone must have stolen the body of Jesus and she doesn’t know where they have taken him. We spent lots of time with the lines in the stories that we considered which note the lack of recognition of Jesus on the part of those to whom he appears and how they came to finally know him. This encounter with Mary is the most touching, I think, because most of us can relate to it from personal experience. When Mary begs to know where Jesus is, he simply replies by saying her name: “Mary” with, I imagine, all the feeling and tenderness of a beloved companion.

Our conversation about this text was spent in consideration of the way our name sounds from the mouth of one who loves us. Just the sound reveals the relationship. On hearing her name, Mary knew immediately that, however changed he was, it was certainly Jesus who was speaking to her. This morning I was reminded of this conversation and of the names we use to call on God by the appearance of Psalm 100 in the lectionary. I share the translation and commentary that I read as a synchronistic chance to reflect not only on the names of God but also of our human relationships and calling one another by name.

O, lands of earth, fill up with joy, and overflow in service to your God. Come before the holy presence, singing. Know this: I AM alone is God, and all that is and we ourselves are creatures made. Like sheep we enter through the gates of life to feed upon the living pastures unafraid. Our praise becomes the doorway to that realm where we can know and speak the sacred name and taste the everlasting good of God from age to age.

COMMENTARY: Verse 3 introduces the use of the sacred name, which has already been mentioned in verse 2 (as I AM). To know God is to know and be able to use or speak the name of God much in the same way we get to know someone and are able then to speak their name. Think about this imagery and the knowledge we have of the name of someone. If you do not know someone’s name, what is your relationship like? When you both know the name and the person behind the name in a personal way, how does that relationship change? Pause and reflect on your own knowledge of the name of God. (Ancient Songs Sung Anew, p. 252)