Waiting For Resurrection

three womenEaster B – Waiting For Resurrection

April 5, 2015

Mark 16:1-8

“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.”

The End.

That’s it for Mark’s gospel.

Handel’s Messiah is not based on Mark’s version of Easter.

No one is singing the Hallelujah Chorus that first Easter day according to Mark.

For Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome,

that first Easter is not about

alleluias, or joy, or wonder, or excitement…

It is about fear!

The women are not running to tell the other disciples the good news.

They are, in fact, frightened into silence.

It’s not a very satisfactory ending.

(We got all dressed up for that?)

Jesus doesn’t appear to anyone after his resurrection in this gospel.

Mark has no interest in trying to ‘prove’ the resurrection.

Later monks didn’t like that…

they didn’t like that the story seemed to end at the top of the ninth inning…

they didn’t like that it stopped before the last scene

when all the loose ends are tied up.

It was so unsettling to them,

that they added some more verses to make the ending better – cleaner, neater!

Virtually all scholars agree, however,

that those final verses…the ones which are probably marked with parentheses or brackets in your Bibles…

those final verses are not how Mark ends the gospel.

Mark intentionally ends with the three frightened women.

The story is not resolved.

It’s not all figured out in the end.

In Mark’s gospel, the future is left very open-ended.

Which I think is just as well…

because Mark doesn’t know me and he doesn’t know you.

He doesn’t know where or how or when Jesus will meet us.

Mark leaves us with a promise.

“Jesus is going ahead of you – he will meet you there.”

Just how this will happen for us is left open – it is left for us to discover.

Of course the women eventually do begin to speak…

how else would we know the story?

But it’s rather beautiful to know isn’t it,

that for all the things that happen “immediately” in the gospel of Mark…

(the word “immediately” is used more than 40 times in his gospel!)

It’s rather beautiful to know that this thing,

this very important thing,

this experience of the new life of the resurrection…

does not happen immediately for them.

The women are stuck in between terror and amazement.

(The Greek words are ‘trauma’ and ‘ecstasy.’)[i]

I find it beautiful because I find it to be where a lot of us are much of the time.

We’re in between trauma and ecstasy;

in between belief and  disbelief;

in between joy and sorrow.

We don’t have it all figured out yet.

Our stories are unresolved.

Our future is open-ended.

Friends of mine are holding vigil at the bedside of their mother

who is close to death this Easter Sunday.

Last year at this same time they were celebrating their daughter’s wedding.

Last year it was easy to sing alleluias on Easter.

It was easy to express joy, wonder, and excitement.

It was easy to believe in resurrection, new life!

This year’s Easter may seem more like Mark’s gospel.

Unsettled.

In between.

A bit unresolved.

Not quite ready to shout alleluia.

It may take more time this Easter to discover new life.

Resurrection may be slower, quieter this year.

Wendell Berry once wrote a poem

that preachers (myself included!) quote quite frequently on Easter.

The pivotal line is the phrase “practice resurrection.”

Each of us ‘practices resurrection’ differently.

For some of us we may be bursting at the seams today;

filled with joy and hope!

You were the first to grab a shaker

and you’re on the edge of your seats,

listening for the Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Easter isn’t always trumpets blaring, cymbals crashing, and shakers shaking though.

There’s a group of Christians in Kenya who are celebrating Easter today too.

Their loved ones were killed on a college campus this week.

They will practice resurrection ..but it will be different.

A friend suggested to me something I think that Mark would understand.

She said, ‘Maybe all resurrection is not like Jesus’ resurrection.

Maybe some resurrection is less dramatic,

and takes longer.

Maybe some human resurrection is more like flowers and trees

that require several seasons before they bear fruit.”

When I lived in Adams County, PA,

I would often take visitors to the National Apple Museum in Biglerville.

I learned a lot about fruit trees!

I learned that orchardists need patience.

Apple trees can take 6 years to produce apples.

Cherry trees can take 8!

For any of us, there can be a period of waiting for resurrection.

Grief takes time before we experience new life.

Processing old hurts or old regrets may take some work

before we experience change.

Healing does not come quickly – it doesn’t come ‘immediately’!

Sometimes, resurrection takes time.

So if this Easter you are stuck someplace between terror and amazement;

between belief and disbelief;

between joy and sorrow;

you have something in common with the women at the tomb.

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.”

But Mark is not afraid.

He’s not afraid to stop … and to trust that one day the story will be told.

The ending will be resolved.

The loose ends will be wrapped up.

Jesus will meet them as he said he would.

They will experience new life.

The same will happen for us.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!

Hymn 365: Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-kay-lundblad/mark-16-1-8-beyond-fear-and-silence_b_1402710.html

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