An Easter People

Ms. Miriam Wood
Kay Spiritual Life Center
April 30, 2009–Thursday Healing Service
Mark 16:1-8

Mark 16: 1-8 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 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.

Imagine the scene. Your good friend, this man who had some really interesting ideas, who spoke about justice, and who may have been the son of God, was just crucified. No one knows what’s going on, I mean, he was talking about his death, but what does it all mean? All you want to do is go with your friends, Mary and Salome, to his grave and take care of his body, you owe him that much. But you’re not even sure how you’re going to do that,, because there’s this huge stone in the way and you have no idea how you’re going to solve that problem, it would take an army of men to move it. And once you move it, I mean, Jesus’s body is going to be just laying there, dead.

You get to the tomb and not only is the stone gone, but some young punk is standing there with the audacity to tell you to not be afraid? Is he serious? All you can think is, “who are you again”? And then he tells you that Jesus has risen. As in, no longer dead. And he’s on his way to Galilee, where you’re supposed to meet up with him, just like he told you. What would you do in that situation, cause I know what I’d do. I’d run as fast as I could in the other direction before anything thing else this weird happened to me again. But after a while it might hit you: maybe this guy knew what was going on. Didn’t Jesus tell the disciples that he was going to rise again on the 3rd day?

I know that we hear a lot around this season about being an “Easter people” – people that live each day with the resurrection as a reality. Think about what it meant to live with that reality for the early Church. I’m sure they were freaked out a lot of the time, and not really sure what it all meant. To then be told that Jesus was already going to Galilee, and was going to be among you…what would that have meant?

As Sara mentioned in Bible study Tuesday night, as best as scholars can tell, this was the way that the Gospel of Mark ended. Jesus hadn’t reappeared to anyone yet, but instead was alive and on his way to the place where he had been working all along. Moreover, Jesus hadn’t ascended into heaven just yet. What does this mean for us as Easter people? What does it mean for us to have a final vision of Jesus as one who is still walking among us, doing works, preparing the way, just waiting for us to arrive? Does this make us more bold, or more sure of God’s plan in the uncertainty that we face in the future? If we live in the mindset of Mary Magdalene, I think this thought could give us a certain amount of comfort, Jesus has risen, and he’s here among us.

This early ending of Mark also pushes us on to greater action. In the endings that follow, Jesus ascends in to heaven and sits. The end. There’s an amount of finality with that, as if it’s now up to the rest of us to figure out what to do here on earth, because Jesus’ work is done. But in the early ending, there’s the sense that Jesus’ work hasn’t been finished, and that Jesus hasn’t yet given up on this earth to join God in heaven. Jesus has gone back to the place where the majority of his ministry has taken place, to be with the people again, working towards God’s kin-dom on earth. This early ending pushes us further, giving us a reason to run as fast as we can to Galilee to see Jesus alive and among us. It pushes us forward to live out the justice that Jesus began, knowing that he has not left us just yet.

I know that all of us are facing uncertainty now, much like Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, Salome, and those in the early church. Finals are ending, graduation is fast upon us. But I think that if you think about Easter in the sense of Jesus still walking among us, preparing the way, alive and well, then there’s peace that comes with that. Because Jesus is still with us. He’s still moving and walking, seeking out God’s kin-dom on earth and working towards justice. This is what it means to be an Easter people. This is what it means to go out in to the big scary future, knowing that we’re not alone on this earth, and that God has not abandoned us yet.