Easter Sunday readings: Isaiah 25.6-9; Psalm 118.14-24; Acts 10.34-43; Mark 16.1-8
The season of Lent, followed by Holy Week, gives us an opportunity to participate in a time of self-discipline, and to immerse ourselves in the flurry of events that lead up to the arrest, abandonment, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. No doubt the first disciples found it all very confusing.
In fact, so can we, despite having 2000 years to absorb and re-enact in ritual all the parts of Jesus’ journey. It can all seem a muddle and a mess, especially when it feels as though we have not quite done justice to the spiritual disciplines that we embraced enthusiastically seven and a half weeks ago.
And then we arrive at the day of resurrection, which should set all things aright. But reading Mark’s gospel, in its oldest and most authentic form, leaves us almost as confused: a cliff-hanger ending that basically says simply that the tomb in which Jesus was laid is empty, and that his disciples should go to look for him in Galilee. That’s it!
It so bothered some people in the early church that longer endings were added to make the gospel more complete – yet to do so misses a wonderful opportunity to recognise that resurrection can be as shocking and surprising now as it was for those women, looking for the body of Christ to anoint.
The story is incomplete; we are sent, along with the disciples, back to Galilee, and the world beyond, to look for the risen Christ.
This is what resurrection means: a second chance – an opportunity to repeat the story of the journey of Jesus through his life and ministry, and to make sense of it in terms of the mysterious empty tomb at the end.
The messy, muddled journey to get there is important: discipline is helpful, and recalling through Holy Week that resurrection carried a cost is also important. But we are a meant to be people of resurrection, and the Church is at its best when it carries the message of resurrection and the hope of a second chance out into the world.
Alleluia! Christ has risen! So can we!