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Fools for the Risen Christ

Easter Common Lectionary Year B

Mark 16:1-8

©2018 Elisabeth R. Jones

April Fool’s day, right?!
Perfect, if you ask me,
for this year when Mark is our Gospeller,
for he pulls the most disturbing prank on all of us!
We came today wanting daffodils and trumpets
to herald a confident resurrection.
And instead we get
an empty tomb.
No Jesus.
Some ‘young man’ – not even a definitive angel,
with a message and a command,
that according to Mark,
are left unspoken, undone
by terrified women, who disappear on us…
leaving the last word of the gospel hanging in the air:
“ afraid,” “effroi.”

Some of you have already pulled out the pew bible,
and think I’m the fool,
because you can see in most them, verses 9 -20.
A neat and tidy addition
with a list of post-resurrection appearances of Jesus
an ascension into Heaven
and confident apostles heralding resurrection hither and yon….
All penned by some perplexed Christian pastor
decades even a century or so later,
because they couldn’t stomach another Easter
ending with the word “afraid.”

Perhaps I am the fool for choosing to abide with Mark,
and not his editors.
But I do so because I think a lot of us
are where Mark is….
just the other side of death.
Way too soon to know the truth of resurrection.
A lot of folk
find ‘proofs’ of Jesus’ bodily resurrection
folded grave cloths
conversations with an enigmatic Jesus in a garden
a fish fry on the beach
breaking bread with a not quite recognizable stranger
putting a hand out to touch his wounded hands and side
all beautiful, in a spiritual way perhaps,
but because we/they can’t sign on to the impossible physics,
we are afraid… to claim or be claimed by a story that seems
almost as ridiculous as an egg-laying rabbit. Who’s the fool?

So Mark doesn’t go there.
Not an alleluia in sight, no proofs,
just a morning filled with amazement,
and a cliff-hanging ending with a future yet to be known.
He does however also pepper his ending with
just enough earth-bound oddities that explain nothing,
but beckon us into the story:
– a jar of spices to anoint a dead and buried body,
– the names of the women,
– the posture of a young man on the right, not the left….
– and his imperative command. Go. To Galilee.
All of which leaves us, after we too have run away from this encounter with impossibility,
asking…. “just wait… what?”
“Well, if they told no-one, how come we know?”

Mark’s foolish, fearful ending suddenly feels
more like a beginning, doesn’t it?

You see Galilee was where it all began for Mark.
Galilee was where a unknown stepped out of a wilderness
into the world and declared that the Kingdom, the Dream of God,
was already here, already now.
And he spent the rest of his life living as if this were
the most self-evident truth there is,
despite all Imperial, and empirical evidence to the contrary.

Galilee is where we met Jesus,
healing, teaching,
casting out the demons that bind souls and bodies,
and raising the sick, raising the dead,
raising the despairing.
Galilee is the ordinary,
Galilee is the margins (where God is most active).
Galilee is every day,
Galilee is childbirth and parenting, aging and dying.
Galilee is where 17 year olds become prophets of a dream
where children can learn without fear.
Galilee is where women and undocumented workers are included
as full participants in the economy of God.
Galilee is where strangers share
fish and loaves and hope on a hillside,
or a meal on a Friday night.
Galilee is where the politics of coercion are seen
for the sham that they are.
Galilee is where healing is given without price to the soldier’s child,
and to the foreigner and the widow, to whoever is sick.

Galilee, Mark knows, is where Jesus is to be found, just as he said.

So instead of hanging around an empty tomb
quibbling over the physics,…..
the proofs or otherwise
of resurrection,
Mark tells us with the women,
to get out of the tomb,
to go back to our ordinary Galilee lives,
and get on with living resurrection.
We are the end of Mark’s Gospel!

Does that sound foolish?
I think it is too!
Utterly foolish.
But here’s the thing.
It actually works!

Let me bring it home.
With her permission, I am telling a story of my colleague,
our Family and Youth ministry Coordinator, Martha.
Back in the fall, as a personal corrective to what she called the “morass of pestilence” that was infecting Facebook, she chose to bridge the 45 days between Canadian and US Thanksgiving with a daily discipline of living on the lookout for something that provoked gratitude.
Yesterday she just posted Day 184.
She hasn’t stopped!
Because when you start seeing the world through the lens of gratitude,
the world seems different, and you are changed.

When you start living resurrection,
the same thing can happen.
At first you feel like an utter fool for the risen Christ.
Our first attempts to see life, and hope,
and healing and generosity,
where the world sees only death and despair,
and pinched fearfulness,
can feel foolish,
we’re clunky and diffident at it.
We wonder if it will amount to anything of consequence.

But that’s Mark’s challenge with this
foolish ending.
It’s as if he’s saying “Prove me wrong!”
Show me that they – Mary and Mary and Salome, did tell after all!!
Show me through your actions that
Christ is indeed risen, in you, through you!

Shall we?
Can we take up this challenge,
this Resurrection Project?
What if each one of us, no matter who we are,
friends, family, guests, visitors, long-timers, all of us in here,
were to make at least one choice per day
for the next 50 days
– between now and Pentecost –
to notice, to see, or to choose to live new life,
or “resurrection life” in some way?

That could mean, to choose life and life-giving.
It could mean seeing goodness and celebrating it.
noticing newness, nourishing possibility.
choosing the healing path,
using the caring word,
being grateful,
being caring, supportive.
It means raising hope,
raising up justice, mercy and honesty
as the benchmarks of the resurrection life
and the Dream of God.

If we were to choose to be fools for the Risen Christ,
what new life might be unleashed?
And who shall we tell?

Pouvons-nous relever ce défi, ce projet de résurrection?
Imaginez si chacun de nous, peu importe qui nous sommes,
amis, familles, invités, visiteurs, membres depuis longtemps,
choisissait, au moins une fois par jour
pendant les 50 prochains jours
– à partir d’aujourd’hui jusqu’à la Pentecôte –
de remarquer, d’observer ou de choisir de vivre, d’une manière ou d’une autre, une certaine « résurrection ».

Ceci pourrait vouloir dire choisir la vie et la partager,
voir la bonté et la célébrer …
en remarquant le renouveau, l’enrichissement possible;
en choisissant la voie de la guérison;
en parlant avec soin et compassion;
en montrant de la reconnaissance;
en prenant soin de soutenir les autres.

Ceci veut dire donner espoir,
promouvoir la justice, la miséricorde et l’honnêteté
comme indicateurs d’une vie de résurrection et de Vision Divine.

Si nous choisissions de nous en remettre au Christ ressuscité,
Si nous choississions de devenir les fous du Christ,
quelle nouvelle vie pourrions-nous alors lâcher sur le monde?

Et à qui le dirions-nous?

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