Easter Sunday – March 31, 2024

This is it y’all, today is a day of celebration.

Today is every epic movie moment put together

Gandalf helms deep

Batman rising out of the prison pit in the Dark Knight Rises



Yes, this is it. We have journeyed with Christ through his suffering and death and now, now we surround ourselves with the assurance that we have desperately clung to since Ash Wednesday. That our dry bones do live. That death does not get the last word. Today we bask in the light of a new dawn, the light of resurrection. Love, hope, and life get the last word. Our worst moments and unhealthiest tendencies do not define us because we have resurrection, not just into eternity, but earthly resurrection here and now. Today is the day! Which makes our passage from the gospel of Mark particularly confusing. This is the lectionary text for today, the text assigned as a part of a three year cycle of scripture used by denominations all over the world for decades. And how does the passage end?

“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and dread had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

Triumph and victory?

Hopeful and heartwarming?

Not quite.

To be honest, this ending feels unsatisfying and anticlimactic. Especially considering Mark keeps going. The gospel of Mark is somewhat unique in that early manuscripts, early written down versions of Mark, have three different endings. The earliest versions end where we stopped today, with terror, dread, fear, and silence. Other manuscripts have an additional two simple sentences that state, “And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” And other versions have 12 additional verses that detail Jesus appearing to his disciples, commissioning his disciples, and then ascending and leaving everything in the hands of his disciples. And I’ll admit it, if you’re reading the last chapter of Mark, those longer endings feel so much better than where we stopped today. They’re so satisfying. They’re palatable, pleasing, and uplifting. It feels good to read something that is tied up in a nice, neat, joyful bow. I also think the ending we read today, is a gift. Our ending today has room for joy and celebration, the tomb is empty he is risen. And it makes space for the hard stuff. Resurrection can be messy and complicated. Life isn’t always comfy and satisfying and tied up with a neat little bow. Maybe, just maybe, that earliest ending, although not the resurrection story we might want, is the resurrection story we need.


Consider this, today is a day of joy and celebration but imagine you didn’t know the story. Imagine you didn’t know that today was coming. Imagine hearing it for the first time, living it for the first time.


You approach the tomb, expecting to anoint the body of your friend and teacher.

You approach the tomb, not knowing how you’re going to move the stone but knowing you have to go, you have to try.

You approach the tomb and find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and an angel dressed in white telling you your friend and teacher is not dead, he is risen. The angels tells you to go and share the good news with the rest of the disciples and that they would see Christ again.


That moment, while familiar to many of us here and now, was radical and creation-changing. Another way to translate how the women responded, which we read as terror and dread, is that they trembled or shook while in a trance or ecstatic. They were literally trembling and overwhelmed, in shock. Y’all, ending awestruck and trembling seems odd and unsatisfying until we put ourselves in the women’s shoes, what it must have felt like in that moment, physically experiencing it and having the full weight and gravity of the resurrection hitting home. The disciples had spent verses saying to Jesus, or implying, I will die with you, I will go to the cross with you, I will take your place, I will die for you, but that isn’t what Christ wanted. The meaning of the empty tomb is life, that Jesus wants us to live for him, to live with him. Jesus’ life wasn’t over and the disciples life with Jesus wasn’t over, it was only beginning. The empty tomb is resurrection, not just for Christ, but for us too. The empty tomb is an invitation and a challenge to take seriously the resurrected life Christ offers us. An abundant life marked by peace, patience, joy, generosity, self-control, and love. A life of praying for our enemies and those who persecute us. A life of loving our neighbor, no matter who that neighbor is.


What is the gift of this shortest resurrection story? The gift of shock and trembling is to help us freshly experience Christ’s creation-changing radical invitation not to die for him but to live for him. And the gift of fear, silence, and running away is a gift of warning and a caution. It is all to easy for us to spend a day, spend a joyous fabulous Sunday, and then go about our daily lives unchanged. Our version of running away, would be having a full out epic Easter Sunday and then not living as Easter people.


So today, do spend time with friends and family, however you are able to. If you haven’t already, have an Easter egg hunt. Take time to laugh, love, be joyous, celebrate. Lean into today. But don’t forget that Easter is way of life. You have the opportunity to live a resurrected life, full and abundant. May we welcome and cherish that gift and allow it to change our life. Together all the people say, amen.

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