Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). John 20:11-16
Most of us can empathize with Mary. We have been disappointed and let down, our hopes and dreams, crushed. The person she believed to be the Messiah had just died on a cross, a criminal’s death. Mary finds herself in the depths of sorrow.
Portland Rescue Mission serves men, women, and children also in crisis, without hope, and in the depths of sorrow. No one expects to be homeless; we all grow up with dreams and hopes for our future and with ideas of who we will be. Then trauma happens and addiction follows, then isolation and loneliness, and shame crowd in. The people we serve have an especially acute need for human connection. Without connection, there is no hope.
When Jesus spoke Mary’s name, her tears turned from tears of sadness to that of joy. Upon hearing her name, hope was reborn. Death no longer stung because Jesus conquered the grave – He has risen indeed!
Every day at PRM, we see hope restored as we greet people by name and hear their stories. Our staff at the Burnside Shelter makes a point to learn the names of those who come by for assistance. When greeting someone by name, we are saying “I see you, I remember you, I’m glad you are here.”
Jesus so beautifully models’ the power of connection, He sees and loves each person he interacts with. In following the way of Jesus, PRM staff and volunteers give hope to the people we serve by seeing and loving them right where they are at.
In an increasingly popular TED Talk, Johann Hari famously states that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is human connection. We could not agree more. When we greet someone by their name, when we really see them, we are laying the groundwork for connection and for hope.