An Easter Spoken-word Sermon
“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” (Mark 16:8, NRSV).
Today should be a celebration
Today should begin our commemoration
For today we exclaim the resurrection
Of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And yet today we are not met with joyful shouts,
Or women running roundabout
Looking for their friends to tell
What happened to Emmanuel—
The final chapter in his story,
In the saga of the century,
Of the entirety of human history,
That God came down with us to be.
In today’s Gospel
There is no ending,
Just a jolting
An awkward awakening
A gaping hole where joy should be.
The stone is rolled away.
The tomb is empty.
But the narrative is unfinished.
Mark’s Gospel is kind of rough around the edges
For all that remains is a final sentence
That is followed by the sound of sheer silence—
Not even a whisper escaped their lips
For the women ran off as if
Their lives depended on it.
Which, let’s be real, they did.
Their Jesus had been a wanted man,
For the women’s beyond beloved friend
Was an enemy of the state.
He was a threat to the authorities
A symbol of a messianic victory.
And his ministry rallied all of their hate,
For how could anyone so boldly proclaim
A message like this?
A message like his?
A message that calls us to forgive?
A message that was all about love,
A message that offered grace from the one above.
A message that could never,
Would never be silenced,
As much as they tried it
By hanging him on that tree
By dragging him up the road to Calgary
By believing in death’s finality
And forcing all those disciples to flee.
And flee they did.
One by one they trickled away:
Philip and Thomas,
James and John,
Andrew and Matthew,
Even that opinionated Peter wouldn’t stay.
The only ones left lingered around the edges.
They patiently waited under the cover of darkness
Ready to anoint their Jesus with their tears and their spices.
But even they,
The final few could not believe it
For there was terror
Mixed with their amazement.
There was doubt
Mixed with their longing
There was relief
Mixed with their mourning.
Their stomachs are uneasy
Their senses all made quesy
Not from the putrid smell of death,
But from the possibility that nothing was left
Of their teacher and friend—
No body to attend,
No hand to hold,
No arms to fold
As if he was just soundly sleeping.
Jesus was not here.
Jesus was not near.
All that remained for them
In that giant, gaping earthen hole
But is fear really how such good news ends?
Or should we perhaps lend ourselves
To another interpretation?
To an alternate manifestation
Of these words of God.
Maybe Mark is smarter and smoother than we assume.
Maybe Mark was just leaving some room for us to join in on the story
To revel in today’s resurrection glory
To understand the Gospel as our own allegory.
Maybe today is our moment of realization
That we could be the ones
Bound by terror and trepidation
That we could let fear have the final word,
That we could claim such a story absurd,
And instead sulk off into the silence.
Or maybe today’s feigned finale
Might be read as our opportunity
To stand before the empty tomb,
To run all the way to the upper room
Where the rest of the disciples hid out of sight.
And proclaim God’s eternal power and might
For Jesus Christ is risen victorious from the grave!
The Son of Man that not even death could enslave.
Maybe today my friends
We are the characters in Mark’s narration.
We are the partakers in God’s revelation.
We are the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection.
So as we write our own sequel to Mark’s story,
As we share in the company of Mary,
And the Magdalene
What choice shall we make?
What road shall we take?
Will fear or freedom reign?
Will despair or hope retain?
Will we there remain in the empty tomb
Or will we burst forth from such a womb
That reworks us,
Because if we’re honest
Rebirth is a painful process.
There’s a holy discomfort in this sacred space.
There’s a vulnerability in that amazing grace.
There’s a knowing that no matter the century
To believe in the resurrection is indeed risky,
And yet more than anything
The resurrection has always been
And will always be
Simply and completely and finally