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"From the Pulpit" - March 30, 2024

"From the Pulpit" - Reflections on the Weekly Texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church


Jesus Christ is risen today, alleluia!  (sound of the phonograph needle scratching across the record...)  But, wait.  Where is Jesus, the Risen One? And, where are the men - the disciples?  

Mark's gospel can be tricky to preach on Easter Sunday.  The men (disciples) have given up on Jesus after his crucifixion.  I mean, who wouldn't? But wouldn't you think they'd at least at some point want to go to the tomb where their beloved rabbi was buried?  To lay flowers? To gather in remembrance?  To wonder what happens next now that their leader is gone from them?

Instead, there is "terror and amazement", Mark says. No shouts of joy.  No acknowledgments that the Scriptures had been fulfilled.  No alleluias.  I mean, if you or I had been there, I'm sure we would have reacted much the same as these women on the scene did, or as the disciples did, which was to just move on.  How many times did Jesus refer to the fact that he'd rise after three days?  A bunch.

But, leave it to the faithful women in Jesus' life to boldly go back to the tomb where Jesus was buried.  Two Mary's, and Salome, who loved her Jesus, brought spices to the tomb to anoint his body.  Brave move.  There, they encounter a young man dressed in white, who says to them that Jesus is not there, but has been raised, and to go and tell the disciples and Peter that they will see him in Galilee (key point here...more below.). And Mark's gospel for this Sunday ends with "and they (the women) said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."

I'm wondering what they might have been afraid of here.  Afraid of going back to Galilee and telling their community that Jesus was there somewhere among them - that he'd in fact risen from the dead? Afraid of being criticized for spreading a ridiculous story that Jesus was not in his burial tomb? Afraid of the fact that they may indeed see a risen Jesus? What would he look like?  What would he say or do?  Lots of fear here on this Easter day of resurrection, in Mark's gospel.

But I look at the next (and final) verse in this short version of Mark's gospel - the shorter of two endings.  "And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation."  And thus ends the first and the short version of Mark's gospel. There is a longer version to his gospel - you can check it out.

But here's the thing. The "man" in the open tomb says to the women that Jesus is going ahead of them, to Galilee (home), and that there you will see him. There, in Galilee. There. Back home. Back where you live and work, and raise your families.  Jesus' journey from the tomb leads back home. For the women here on this Easter morning. For the disciples. And for us.

Maybe one of the messages here in Mark's gospel this Easter is that Jesus is home among us. Where we live and work and play. Where we are in community with others. And we are called to "complete" the gospel story by telling it to others, just as Peter and the disciples eventually did.  Yes, Mark''s gospel ends with the women (and the men, probably) being terrified.  But they eventually did what they were told to do - to share the resurrection story with their community.  And that same gospel message lives within us, and we share it just like those earliest disciples on the scene at Jesus' burial site.  Yes, there is uncertainty. Yes, there is doubt. But they shared what they had seen and heard nonetheless.

Maybe this Easter, in keeping with Mark's somewhat "incomplete" account of the Easter story, we, too, are invited to "go back to Galilee" - go back home, and share the good news of Jesus' resurrection.  Share it with those who believe, and maybe even with those who are skeptical.  

Blessings to you on this Easter Sunday. It's good to be able to sing and shout our Alleluias again, isn't it.  Amen.

"In Christ Alone" - we'll sing this tomorrow, but check out this amazing song and related sand art that accompanies it.

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