Resurrection of Our Lord

Resurrection of Our Lord

Processional Gospel: Mark 16:1-8

A reading from the Gospel of Mark.
Glory to you, O Lord.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [Jesus’ body]. 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.

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Now let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength and Redeemer


Friends, I’m tired. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but the current state of the world has me shuffling between images of pure terror and mind-numbing silence most days. I’m worried about my neighbors, worried about the future, worried about what to say to you. I’m up here hoping that this reflection might bring you whatever it is you seek in the holy scriptures…but I’m not worried about Jesus. In fact, the lead up to Easter assures me that there is nothing too big, too scary, too uncertain for our God.  

Growing up I thought of Easter as a big party, complete with fancy clothes and tasty brunches. I knew that something BIG had happened because I could look around the room and see the delight on my fellow churchgoers faces. The deep purples and scarlets transformed into golden yellows, candy passed secretly over and under pews. It was a day of celebration and while I didn’t understand, I just knew it.  

When I came to a deeper understanding of the Lenten season and ultimately Resurrection Sunday I began to connect a few dots in my mind. We were so sad on Good Friday, so painfully aware of the absence of the savior. On Holy Saturday we sat in the sadness, much like our ancient siblings believing that the one who came to save us, had failed. Just as in our current reality—it is normal to feel powerless to the death dealing ways of the world. As people of God though, as followers of the risen one we are equipped with a new message to combat the powerlessness—if we can believe it.

My friends, tired as we may be—we have the power to remind those who are perishing that death doesn’t have the last word. That the one who came to save all people, is still at work in the world. We can use our faith to propel us towards action, towards empathy, towards a brighter tomorrow. 


Let’s look at our readings and see what inspiration we can find on this Easter morning.

Isaiah writes about a feast day that is coming—one of the Bible’s most vivid images of the “day of the Lord” or, in our Christian context, the kingdom of God. 

These are descriptions fit for a king—and well beyond the meager provisions of most everyday folks. The shroud of death—a worry that haunts us all either a little or a lot!—will be removed. 

Whatever is making you sad—gone. Just like that. What a tremendous blessing in the final verse: “This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

In Acts 10:34-43, Peter gives an impassioned and impressive sermon with a similar summary of the gospel in shorthand. His version expands a bit to include Jesus’ baptism and his ministry of doing good and healing. He was put to death by hanging on a tree but God raised him on the third day. Peter’s preaching exemplifies, for the early church that through Jesus death and resurrection will always joined together.

Our Gospel Mark 16:1-8 is suitably brief in its telling of the Easter morning story. There is no risen Christ in Mark’s telling, only an empty tomb with a (somewhat strange) witness proclaiming, “He is not here.” The stranger also lets them know that Jesus “is going ahead of you to Galilee…you will see him there.” Isn’t that just like Jesus in Mark? Showing up right where we live, work, play, and carry on. The abrupt ending of the story in v.8 serves to hand off the responsibility for responding to this promise. The women were terrified and afraid (who wouldn’t be?) They didn’t say anything as they departed. What will we do and say as we depart on this Easter morning?


If, like me, you accept the majority opinion of New Testament scholars that Mark’s gospel ends here, then we are not left with the joyous revelation of Jesus’ resurrection, but with the horrifying discovery of a grave robbery. We read that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome came early to the tomb of Jesus. They had come to “anoint him,” to give him a decent burial.

We who are disciples of Jesus understand what that is all about. We have a process for dealing with death. When a member of our community dies, we surround them with comfort. We bring meals to lessen the burdens of a family in deep pain as they struggle with funeral arrangements, burial details and the financial issues that arise with a person’s passing. We visit them as they gather for a wake or visitation, expressing our love, offering our prayers and sharing memories of the lost loved one. We frequently say our final farewell in a sanctuary surrounded by the symbols of our faith, the baptismal font where life with Jesus begins and the altar where it continues and extends to dimensions we cannot see with mortal eyes, to that great “cloud of witnesses” and all the “company of heaven.” Finally, we place the remains of our loved one into the earth, not as though it were a “final resting place,” but in the hope and expectation that this “seed” we plant today will bloom in a new creation on the day of resurrection.

I can only imagine how traumatized the three women must have been that morning. They had seen Jesus, the one they had followed, loved and in whom they had placed their hope cruelly tortured to death. With this wound still raw and fresh, they arrive at his tomb to find it torn open. The body of Jesus is gone and one could only imagine where it might be, what Jesus’ enemies might have done to it and what condition it might be in now. It’s no wonder that the women ran from the tomb filled with terror without saying anything to anyone.

But here’s the thing. True, the gospel tells us that the women ran from the tomb in terror and told nobody anything of what they had seen and heard. Yet we know that could not have been the end of the story. If it were, I would not be writing these lines and Easter Sunday (and every other Sunday for that matter) would be just another day. So we are left with the question: How did these women finally overcome their trauma and their paralyzing fear? 

How did they manage to discern the dawn of a new age in the midst of what seemed to be the ultimate desecration? How were they “forced outside” themselves? How did they manage to find their voices, speak the good news of Jesus’ Resurrection and persuade their fellow disciples to return to the mountain in Galilee where they encountered the resurrected Lord?

Perhaps Mark intended to leave us with these questions because he understood that Jesus’ church was experiencing some traumatic events. Perhaps the Evangelist understood that his church would need a resiliant faith to see it through the dark times ahead. Maybe this gospel comes up in this cycle of readings in this time in order to challenge us to recognize the presence of Jesus in the midst of our own trauma. Perhaps we need to be reminded that we have been here before, that the worst thing that could ever happen to us already happened on Good Friday and the Jesus we thought we had lost for good came back to us. He comes back to us again. So take heart, people of God. We are going to be alright after all.


If Mark’s Easter Story doesn’t do it for you this year, then hopefully the Book of Acts can help us out some: “They put him to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day. . . “(Acts 10:39b-40a) 

They put him to death on a tree, but God raised him. Those words, but God, are the church’s only true answer to the death, destruction, and despair the world has for us. Trying to reason our way through grief and loss, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to convince a world gone crazy with the desire for more of everything and anything that desire is deadly of both body and soul; these things are, at the end of the day, pointless. 

The only answer we have to offer to these things, which the church has traditionally summed up as “Sin, Death and the Devil,” is these two words, but God! This story is the golden thread running through the Bible; this story of God’s redeeming and forgiving love, this story of God’s willingness to act in response to the world’s evil, this story summed up in the words; but God.

Today we celebrate the ultimate but God moment, the raising of Jesus from the tomb. It is both the proof and the promise of our faith. It reminds us of what God has done in the past while promising to us what God will do in the future. With both Jesus and the world, the evil trilogy of Sin, Death and the Devil did their best to do their worst. Good Friday appeared to be a complete victory for those forces of destruction which assail all of us, Evil reared its ugly head and roared; and Good stood by idly and did nothing.

When the women went to the tomb, they went in deep sadness and despair, they went into a place of coldness and death, they went to a place with no happiness and no hope,  they went to prepare a body for burial, they went to put Jesus in his tomb. But when they got there, they discovered that things had changed, the tomb was empty, the body was missing, and an angel was lurking about. Mary had come upon the greatest but God moment of them all. Our lives are full of difficulty. Natural disaster strikes, friends die, relatives get sick, jobs don’t pan out, politicians and teachers and yes, even preachers, turn out to be less than they seem or should be. All of life is subject to the painful realities of decline and decay. But Easter reminds us that the church has an answer, and that answer is God; God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s power, God’s actions in the world.

Easter is more than a promise of life beyond the grave, of happiness in heaven with our loved ones. Easter is a promise that life is good now, that God’s power is active in this moment, in this place, in our lives. 

Easter tells us that our eternal life begins now and goes with us through death into God’s future. Easter tells us that for whatever may happen to us in this world there is an answer, and the answer is but God.

  • The world says; “Seek success and glory and material well-being above all else.”  But God says; “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you.” 
  • The world says; It’s a dog eat dog world, it’s a rat race. It’s every person for themself. But God says; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 
  • The world says, “Find your self, your bliss. Do that thing which makes you feel most fulfilled.” But God says; “You shall love the LORD your God, with all your heart, mind and soul; and the second is just like it; love your neighbor as yourself.” 
  • The world says, “Stave off death at whatever cost. The worst thing that can happen is to die and any action that you take to avoid it is good.” But God says, “Those who would save their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for my sake and the sake of the Gospel will save it.” 
  • The world’s way leads to the death of the soul and eventually the death of the body, with no hope for tomorrow and no joy for today. But God’s way leads first to death and then to life; life both now and forever; life full of the joy of loving and serving God and neighbor with reckless abandon and total trust in God’s will and way. 

That is why we are so full of joy as we cry out today: Christ is risen!