Given that the Easter Vigil is the most important service not only for Easter but in the entire liturgical year we will here use the Vigil readings. However, these resurrection thoughts certainly apply for Easter morning as well.
Romans 6:3-11; Psalm 114; Mark 16:1-8
“I thank God for this most amazing day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – E. E. Cummings
A major theme in this resurrection account from Mark is “amazement.” The three women go to the grave early in the morning and encounter, not a lightening flash of an angel as in Matthew’s account, but a young man, sitting all alone, telling them Jesus has been raised. He does not tell them not to be afraid, as an angel usually would. He wonders why they are amazed (Mark 16:6 – see Greek below), as if Jesus being raised is the most natural thing in the world. The young man instructs the women to let the disciples know that Jesus is alive and will meet them in Galilee. But the trembling amazement of the women causes them to be afraid; they run off and tell nothing to anyone. Often there is much to fear in life. The baby is sick. What if she dies? I am out of work. My children are hungry. My wife has gone to war. I am scared. I am gay and therefore unjustly persecuted. What do I have to live for? We fear because we do not know where we are going or what is going to happen. Crooked shadows pointing to tomorrow’s unknowns scare us. Let us today hear the young man at the tomb, and know that Jesus goes ahead of us (Mark 16:7). When Mother Teresa went into the dark slums of Calcutta she was afraid. But in the face of the starving poor she saw Jesus. He was there already waiting for her. We can stand straight in our faith that Jesus is waiting for us in an unknown place and we can stand straight for each other. We do not have to know where we are going. However, believing in the resurrection does not mean that we be passive and do nothing and just wait for Jesus. Because of Jesus, because of his empowerment, we also can stand up for each other. So let us go together into the unknown. What an amazing day this is. Yes!
Some translations of Mark 16:6 say the women were “alarmed.” But the Greek word is more nuanced than that. It says they were greatly surprised or amazed. The amazement may cause them to be alarmed as is shown in Mark 16:8, but the initial word indicates amazement.
Mark 16:1 says the women went to the tomb after the “Sabbath” was over, after what we call Saturday, which was their holy day. Mark 16:2 says they went on the first day of the week. In the original Greek the word “Sabbath” means both the holy day (Saturday) and also means “week.” Literally Mark 16:2 reads that they went on the first of “Sabbaths” (plural). It’s like saying when we get to the Sabbath (Saturday) “that’s a week.”
What a day, amazed.
Scary unknown may wait dark.
But God shines yet yonder.