The Resurrection of Our Lord / Easter Sunday (4/8/2012)

Lessons:Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43 St. Mark 16:1-8 or St. John 20:1-18

Prayer of the Day: God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

16:1 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. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 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. 7 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.” 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.

St. Mark 16:1-8 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Trauma and Ecstasy

Dear friends in Christ, on this most holy night, when our Lord Jesus passed from death to life, the Church invites her children throughout the world to come together in vigil and prayer. This is the Passover of the Lord: If we honor the memory of his death and resurrection by hearing the Word and celebrating its mysteries, then we may be confident that we shall share his victory over death and live with him forever in God.

Easter Vigil; Lutheran Book of Worship

In the New Testament there are four Gospel accounts of the resurrection. St. Mark’s is the most surprising and the most disturbing. When the young man, dressed in a white robe, informs the women that Jesus has been raised and is not in the tomb, he instructs them to go tell Peter and the others. They do exactly the opposite because, St. Mark tells us, terror and amazement has seized them (in the Greek, it is “trauma and ecstasy” — τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις — that seizes them).

They are afraid, and indeed they should be. Not afraid that the authorities might kill them, just as they killed Jesus. Not afraid that he isn’t who they thought he was. Not afraid that he is now gone, and has left them behind. But afraid that what the young man in the white robe says to them just might actually be true. Afraid that the one certain reality in their lives (death) is now no longer certain. Because if death is no longer certain — if the dead don’t stay dead anymore — then everything has changed.

Indeed, everything has changed. Long-held expectations of what the Messiah would be like, and what would be accomplished during a Messianic reign: gone. The comprehensive system of sacrifices and offerings that have brought comfort to generations of believers: gone. The certainty that God can be understood, and defined, and fit within our own expectations: gone. The absolute finality of death: gone.

And replaced with what? With the announcement from a stranger in a white robe, who declares that Jesus is raised, he is not here, he has gone ahead, and he will meet you in your future. Ironically, the future in which he promises to meet them takes place where many of them began: in Galilee. Past and future, alpha and omega, this one who has confounded the powers of death surrounds their days, and calls them into a life that they cannot even begin to imagine or understand. Terror and amazement; trauma and ecstasy; indeed!

Do we dare believe this proclamation? Do we dare believe that Jesus is as present in our beginnings as he is in our future? Do we dare believe that he calls us, too, to meet him where we go? To meet him in the stranger we feed or clothe? To met him in the sojourner we welcome? To meet him in the transgressor we forgive? Or perhaps even more powerfully, to meet him as we, ourselves, are fed, clothed, welcomed, forgiven…

This week, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the faithful will gather to accompany Jesus on the journey of his last week in life. We will submit our hearts, once again, to this ancient and sacred story. May we, also, stand at the barren cross and the empty tomb on Easter morning, filled with terror and amazement — with trauma and ecstasy — at what God has done.


Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Why were these three women at the tomb on Easter morning in the first place?
  2. What surprised and frightened them most about their experience at the tomb?
  3. Why were they unable to tell anyone about what the robed man had asked them to say?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How does believing in this resurrection change everything for me today?
  2. Where have I seen Jesus in my past? Where do I imagine finding him in my future?
  3. What plans have I made for this week, to enter into this story with my whole heart and mind?