Monday, April 2, 2012

Looking Forward to April 8, 2012 -- Easter Day

The Scripture Readings this week are:
Psalm 118 VU p.837
Mark 16:1-8

The Sermon Title is: For They Were Afraid

Early Thoughts: Read that Mark passage. Anything odd about it? Anything missing from the Easter story?

The Risen Christ does not appear in this story (and this is considered the original ending of Mark's Gospel.  Rather than end on a note of hope and glory Mark's Gospel ends on a note of fear and wondering--with at most a hint of the hope and glory.

There is something terrifying about the resurrection stories, at least if you read them from the point of view of the women going to the tomb. The truth of resurrection in the Gospels has to deal with that fear.

Mark is the earliest Gospel we have. The writer is the first person to attempt a description of Easter morning (while Paul writes earlier and confesses an Easter faith he never talks about what we call Easter morning). And in the earliest from it ends with the women running away in fear, telling nobody anything.

Obviously the story doesn't stop there. Obviously Mark's community knows that there is more to the story (and in fact there were verses added to the ending later that included an appearance by the Risen Christ). But this is where we get left. Not with joy and celebration but with fear and wondering.

And I think that is a good entry into being an Easter people. Too often we pass over that aspect of the story because we know how it ends. But as I look at it one of the miracles of the Easter event is that a group of terrified people found the faith to believe anyway. Easter isn't about debating what "really" happened. Easter is about finding the way to move beyond the fear of death into new life.

There is a lot of fear in the world right now. What will push us to feel the fear and believe anyway? What draws us into resurrection?


  1. One could make a similar point by contemplating, say, Mk. 15:47. We should indeed be willing to push through fear, as you say.

    But why do you say that 16:8 is considered the original ending of Mark's Gospel?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  2. Simply because every source I have read in seminary and since has stated that the best read of the earliest manuscripts has 16:8 as the end.