On Faith: To be continued
The last verse of Mark's Gospel 16:8: "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."
Talk about a cliffhanger of an ending. The story continues through our hearing of it during this Holy Week leading up to Easter, the empty tomb and beyond. Although there are longer accounts of the Passion narrative and resurrection of Christ, it is the brevity of Mark's Gospel that peaks my curiosity.
I completed my Master of Divinity degree at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, in 1991. It was my good fortune that Donald Juel was my professor and advisor during my first two years at seminary. His legacy endures as a theologian, writer and mentor of many students.
It is his concise reflection on the meaning of the resurrection account in Mark's Gospel that I would like to share with you today: "None of the Gospels can really end the story of Jesus. The whole point is that it continues — and that its significance continues."
Mark account of Jesus' resurrection could almost have ended with a "to be continued." Clearly, witnesses to this event did not remain silent or afraid for long. Congregations throughout the world proclaim, "He has been raised from the dead!"
Through the ages, people gather for Easter celebrations and witness anew to this event. The "living word of God" found in Scripture continues to shine forth through our actions in everyday life.
Easter messages are not so much a time to "explain" the resurrection story, but rather a time to create enough space in our lives to allow the news of Christ's resurrection to ring. Ring forth like the Christmas kettle bells of Salvation Army, like the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign efforts to end hunger or like the many ways we partner with our neighbor to strive for justice and peace throughout the world.
The witness of "He is risen" reverberates in how we view each person as God views us — beloved sheep of God's own fold, a lamb of God's own flock and a sinner of God's own redeeming.
I'd like to conclude this article where I began, with the words of Donald Juel: "Jesus is full of surprises. Old skins cannot contain the new wine. The world's uneasiness in the presence of Jesus is fully justified. He will not be bound by tradition that defines human life; even death has no final power over him.
"The end only marks a new beginning — a beginning of the good news that Jesus, the one who is the ultimate threat to our autonomy, now becomes our source of life."
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.