Monday, March 24, 2008

The Day after Easter

Monday, March 24 -- Monday of Easter Week

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, page 959)
Psalms 93, 98 (morning) 66 (evening)
Exodus 12:14-27
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Mark 16:1-8

Ahh. It was nice to sleep late on the first day after Easter. And the Daily Office greets us with wonderful treats -- two triumphant psalms, the Exodus instructions about the Passover and unleavened bread, Paul's wonderful account of the "creed" that he inherited and has lived, and the exquisite end of Mark's Gospel.

Paul gives us the earliest written summary of Christian teaching that we have about the Passion of Jesus. The key moments are "died, buried, raised, appeared." Paul tells the church in Corinth that he is handing on the "good news" that he received and now proclaims. (the word "Good News" = "Gospel") Paul lists the appearances -- first Cephas (Peter), then the twelve apostles. "Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."

We know more directly about the appearance to Paul than about any of the other resurrection appearances. It was a vision of Jesus who spoke to Paul in such an extraordinary way, that he reversed his mission to persecute Christians and became one.

It is interesting that in the gospel stories women have a more prominent role. Today we read Mark's enigmatic version of Easter day. Mary Magdelene, and Mary the mother of James and Salome bring spices to anoint the body, since the sabbath had interrupted the preparations on Friday.

There is debate about the identification of the women at the tomb, and the various gospel accounts are inconsistent. "Mary the mother of James" has been identified variously as the mother of James the Younger (or James the Less, or Son of Alphaeus) or as the mother of James and John.

Some have identified Salome with the other unnamed woman at the tomb in Matthew's account or as Jesus' aunt (Mary's mother) who is present at the crucifixion in John's account. One tradition calls her Mary Salome of Cleophas. Salome is a significant character in some of the extra-canonical early Christian writings.

Mark's gospel ends with the women seeing a young man dressed in a white robe who tells them Jesus has been raised and will meet them in Galilee. Here is the last verse of Mark's gospel (16:8) as we have it in the oldest and most authoritative sources: "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."

After that sentence, most Bibles have lots of footnotes and extra paragraphs -- The Shorter Ending of Mark, The Longer Ending of Mark."

I think the ending at verse eight makes complete sense when it is read in the context of Mark's entire gospel. Mark has emphasized Jesus' suffering, not Jesus' glory, throughout his story. The disciples have been confused and baffled throughout, never quite understanding the significance of what they are experiencing. It is likely that the congregation Mark writes to is a struggling one, maybe facing some form of conflict or persecution. The tone of his entire gospel would match their situation -- a tone of unknowing and fear. And yet, the story is one of triumph through suffering. That is Mark's message to them. They too will triumph through suffering, like Jesus. They know the glorious stories of their heroes, the apostles. Those heroes are no different than they are -- simple human beings with fears and confusion. Yet they are our heroes and models. They persevered and triumphed. So can you,

Subsequent redactors were uncomfortable with this ending and tried to paste on some other texts. Some scholars opine that the original ending may have been lost. One theory says that John 21 is the original ending for Mark.

Part of our inheritance is a rich tapestry of stories about the appearances of Jesus following his death. Those appearances continue, as Paul lists, to his experience more than a decade after Jesus' crucifixion, "as to one untimely born" he says of himself. Those appearances continue to this day. Many of us have seen or felt or heard or touched the presence of the Risen Christ who has appeared to us and been known by us. His living continues. And we are invited to follow in Paul's tradition, to work "harder than any of them" to continue the mission and presence of Jesus, who has taught us how to live the abundant life of love, courage and compassion.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


Lowell

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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html


The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

4 Comments:

At 10:57 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Thanks for the posting.

 
At 4:39 AM, Anonymous Bryan Riley said...

What an encouraging post, pointing us to the One who completes all things. I was reading the Psalms in the Message and loved the imagery:

"What you say goes - it always has. 'Beauty' and 'Holy' mark your palace rule, God, to the very end of time."

"Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders! He rolled up His sleeves; He set things right. God made history with salvation; He showed the world what he could do. He remembered to love us, a bonus to His dear family, Israel - indefatigable love. The whole earth comes to attention. Look! God's work of salvation!"

I pray often for the unity of the Body of Christ in Fayetteville. I would often run down the street between CUMC, FBC, and heading straight toward your church and have a strong sense from the Lord that He would bring His family together. May we join Jesus in His prayer for unity.

 
At 4:40 AM, Anonymous Bryan Riley said...

What an encouraging post, pointing us to the One who completes all things. I was reading the Psalms in the Message and loved the imagery:

"What you say goes - it always has. 'Beauty' and 'Holy' mark your palace rule, God, to the very end of time."

"Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders! He rolled up His sleeves; He set things right. God made history with salvation; He showed the world what he could do. He remembered to love us, a bonus to His dear family, Israel - indefatigable love. The whole earth comes to attention. Look! God's work of salvation!"

I pray often for the unity of the Body of Christ in Fayetteville. I would often run down the street between CUMC, FBC, and heading straight toward your church and have a strong sense from the Lord that He would bring His family together. May we join Jesus in His prayer for unity.

 
At 7:54 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks Brian.

I love that description: "indefatigable love." That's what can bring us together. We all share an experience of God's love. When we give to each other our experience of love, we find so much in common. Love unites.

Lowell

 

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