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Hold on gently

Pastor Inge Whittemore | East Nelson Church | 9024 18 Mile Rd | Cedar Springs MI. 49319

Raising canaries is an interesting hobby. I read that one of the most difficult parts of taking care of canaries is trimming the bird’s nails. You have to catch the bird and gently cradle it in your palm and your last three fingers (while holding each ankle one at a time between your forefinger and thumb). 

You then carefully cut each toenail but just don’t cut it too short or leave it too long. It is a carefully executed process. You can’t grab at the bird because that will scare it. You can’t squeeze the bird because that will hurt it. But you also can’t hold it so loosely that it tries to get away and hurts its fragile self in the process.

It is a bit like the scene of Mary Magdalene on the morning of the first Easter. Meeting the risen Jesus was, for Mary Magdalene, sort of like holding a canary. When she saw the risen Lord, her first thought was to run to him and grab hold of him and hold on to him tight and never let him get away. 

But in her heart she knew that he could not stay. He told her he was going to the Father. She had followed Jesus for some time now. She had heard Jesus’ invitation, “Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” She’d followed and heard and had repented and believed and she was a changed person for it.

This invitation to “Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand“ continues to echo today to all who wish to experience true transformation of the deepest kind. It is the good news that brings hope to all. 

In that one incredible encounter at the garden tomb, God created space around Jesus and Mary, enough for Mary to be able to know that the Lord had risen just as he had promised. She stayed with him as long as he was there. And then, when he was gone, she went and told the others what she had seen and what Jesus had said to her. She was privileged to be the first to announce the Good News that Jesus had not died, but truly lived.  

Every year, this piece of history (his story) moves us along from searching in sadness, to incredible disbelief, and finally to immense joy. And that’s another reason I love canaries. Canaries’ songs are joyful. Canaries remind me that even while they are fragile and delicate their song is strong. Let us hold on to the joy throughout Eastertide—the 50 days from Easter until Pentecost and even longer. Let’s not hold on too tight that we keep it only to ourselves. Let us not hold so loosely that we casually let the meaning of Easter fly away. How about we continue to rejoice in the resurrection by holding the story up for all to see.  

Let us be like Mary and rejoice and sing out, “I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18 NIV)




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