Kelsey Green, Baltimore MD 

Warm-up Questions 

  • In a world plagued with violence and death, what does resurrection in our current time and place look like to you? 
  • How do you know “Jesus lives”? 

What You See, Isn’t Always the Truth 

Friends, I’m tired. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but the current state of the world has me shuffling between images of pure terror and mind-numbing silence most days. I’m worried about my neighbors, worried about the future, worried about what to say to you. I’m sitting here hoping that this reflection might bring you whatever it is you seek in the holy scriptures…but I’m not worried about Jesus. In fact, the lead up to Easter assures me that there is nothing too big, too scary, too uncertain for our God.  

Growing up I thought of Easter as a big party, complete with fancy dresses and tasty brunches. I knew that something BIG had happened because I could look around the room and see the delight on my fellow churchgoers faces. The deep purples and scarlets transformed into golden hues, candy passed secretly over and under pews. It was a day of celebration and while I didn’t understand, I just knew it.  

When I came to a deeper understanding of the Lenten season and ultimately Resurrection Sunday I began to connect a few dots in my mind. We were so sad on Good Friday, so painfully aware of the absence of the savior. On Holy Saturday we sat in the sadness, much like our ancient siblings believing that the one who came to save us, had failed. Just as in our current reality–it is normal to feel powerless to the death dealing ways of the world. As people of God, as followers of the risen one we are equipped with a new message to combat the powerlessness–that is, if we can believe it. As Paul said in his letter to the Church at Corinth:  

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

My friends, tired though we may be–we have the power to remind those who are perishing that death doesn’t have the last word. That the one who came to save all people, is still at work in the world. We can use our faith to propel us towards action, towards empathy, towards a brighter tomorrow.  

Discussion Questions 

  • Take a moment and reflect on your life so far:
    • What are some things you feel powerless to? 
    • Where do you go to decompress from the realities of our world?
    • Where in your life do you need reminders that “death does not win”? 

Easter Sunday 

Acts 10: 34-43 

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 

Mark 16:1-8 

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings. 

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day. 

Gospel Reflection 

Well talk about tired! Not to mentioned traumatized, brutalized, exhausted…tired doesn’t even seem to cover it all. By the time we encounter the women in Mark’s gospel this resurrection Sunday, they have been through quite a harrowing ordeal. Their dear friend, confidant, and teacher has been rounded up, brought before a mock trial, and executed at the hands of the state. The men they’ve been following around, brothers in the fight, have been scattered and fled. The terror throughout the land is palpable and yet: the women are at work.

They do not remain bound by their fear but go into service for the one whom they loved. It is customary in Jewish law to tend to the body of one newly deceased and prepare it for burial. Despite their fear, the women go to the tomb, wondering who will move the stone away so they can get to work. I imagine their eyes still bleary as they approach to see the stone already rolled away. That would have been enough for me. Cowering and fearful, I certainly would have run away but they women persist.

Upon entering the tomb they are greeted not by the body of their beloved but by a man dressed in a white robe. The man calls out to them, “do not be afraid!” I can’t help but chuckle because what else would they be? He assures them with a word, “I know who you are looking for–Jesus the one who was killed most gruesomely. Do not be afraid, he is not dead–he has been raised!” I give the women a lot of credit because I would have laughed this poor man to shame. He then instructs them to go and tell the disciples that Jesus has gone ahead of them and will see them again in Galilee, just as had been promised. The women, still struck with fear, fled from the tomb. While they were excited, their fear held them captive from saying anything to any one.  

As a preacher I always try to remind people of the mental gymnastics that these women were doing at the tomb early that morning. After going through a traumatizing pattern of events they have gone to do the most normal thing any grieving Jewish woman could do. They went to follow the law, to prepare the body of the one they loved, and the tomb was empty. After all they had witnessed, after all the horrors they had faced, the broken and battered body of the person they loved most was missing. And I think they give the angelic one in the tomb grace. I, for one, would have had many more questions to ask of this mysterious fellow.  

Once confirmed, I too would have had a bit of an issue with what once was dead coming alive. I would have forgotten all about what Jesus had said because grief is a powerful mind eraser. I don’t blame these women for hearing of this resurrection and holding it close to the chest. The disbelief, coupled with cautious joy midway for the exit stage left. For those of us who have read this story before, we know what is to come. Let us beloveds sit in this resurrection joy. Let us not be so quick to move on to what comes next but rather to marvel at our ancient sisters who knew the risen one long before the others caught on. 

Discussion Questions 

  • How do you find joy in the world today?
    • Are you cautious to receive/experience this joy?  
  • How do you share the good news? 
  • If death doesn’t have the last word, what would you say to someone who is deep in their grief/despair? 

Activity Suggestions: 

  • Look for the risen Christ in the world: keep a running list of “God sightings” to bring you joy on gloomy days!  
  • Take time to get outside as winter turns to spring and look for signs of new life 

Closing Prayer 

God of newness, you gave your only son to die for our sake – that we might have new life. In this season of new beginnings breathe resurrection into our dreary bones and awaken us to the needs of our broken world. May our work in you be done to uplift those bowed down. May our hunger for justice be fed in community. May our hope shake up a comfortable few – bringing attention to your mercy. Unite us here and now. Today to the ends of the age. Amen and amen.