Easter is coming!
In just a few weeks we will gather to tell about triumph leading to disaster leading to triumph. We will join the crowds along the roadside waving Palm branches and shouting “Hosanna, loud Hosanna to thee Redeemer King”, seemingly oblivious to the shadow that lies ahead. Then we will gather for a shared meal and tell the story that liturgically begins with the words “on the night before he died...”. Then we will gather on Friday and hear about trial, and conviction, and execution.
Anyone might think that would be the end of the story. And they might wonder why we tell it.
But Friday is in fact the penultimate moment. The best is yet to come. And so on Sunday we will join Mary and Mary and Salome on a sad slow walk to the tomb...for a surprise. And in an instant the world is changed. In an instant nothing will ever be the same again. Is it any wonder that our reading on Easter Sunday will end with the words “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8)?
I suspect we who know the story so well lose something in its telling. We are able to move past the Friday sorrow and darkness because we know that the sun (and Son) will rise on Sunday. WE have become accustomed to the rhythms of faith and may lose the wonder and power and awe of those words “Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed” that so often open our Easter worship.
That Easter moment probably should inspire some fear. Life-changing events, even if they are positive changes, generally have a tang of fear to them. It is like stepping through a doorway that only allows traffic in one direction. From that point on our lives will be different. Easter is just that. Easter is when God steps in and changes the world. Once we have met Christ who has been raised we are different people and we are called to live in a different way.
Feel like running away and saying nothing to anyone yet?
But obviously the story does not end there. That verse is indeed the last verse of Mark's gospel in the oldest manuscripts (your Bible will have several verses after verse 8 but it is believed that these accounts were added by later copyists) but obviously the story does not end there. Because if it did how would we know it? Someone told somebody something.
This Easter I encourage us to dwell in the moment, to hear the story again as if we don't know what is coming. I encourage us to then ask ourselves “Now What?” (which may well be the sermon title of Easter Sunday).
What do we do now that we have learned that life conquers death?
What do we do when know that God is actively working to bring the Kingdom into being despite the worst humanity can do to resist it?
What do we do when the world is changed?
Will we run away and say nothing? Will we sing songs of joy? Will we be changed by the encounter at the tomb?
Easter is coming. Are you ready?