And Very Early

(A word for Easter Sunrise–April 8, 2012–Mark 16:1-8)
They got up with a purpose that morning, with a place to go and a task to perform.
It had been done all wrong, you see.
There was no time.
They couldn’t anoint him and treat him with care; they didn’t have a chance to show their love and tend his body as he deserved.
The women had been showing that love all along the way, looking out for him, making sure the disciples got fed, probably paying the rent on the Upper Room.
They were the first Church Ladies, the first Women’s Fellowship, the first Altar Guild, the first Flower Committee.
They were ordinary people who loved Jesus.
They were faithful women who bravely followed him to the cross and saw the worst of it.
They were courageous women who made sure they knew the place where his body had been laid.
And very earlier in the morning they went out to the tomb to anoint his body with spices, prepared to show their love for this extraordinary man in the ritual acts that marked a respectful farewell.
They came to set things right.
And in their planning they worried about the heavy stone used to close the tomb.
They were practical, loving people.
It was just after sunrise, that time when everything seems possible and mysterious and new.
They looked ahead of them expecting a tomb sealed by a stone, just as we expect the sun glimmering on the horizon very early in the morning.
Instead they saw an open tomb. The stone had been rolled away! Instead they heard words they could hardly believe.
“He has been raised; he is not here.”
It was early, very early. Perhaps they wondered what they were hearing.
“Am I quite awake?”
“Maybe it’s the sun in my eyes.”
“I haven’t been sleeping well.”
And:
“Let’s get out of here!!!”
“For terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
What did they fear?
Grave robbers?
Being accused themselves?
Roman soldiers?
                             Temple authorities?
Or did they fear that it was true?
Did they flee in awe of God’s power to overturn death?

Although Mark tells us the women ran away terrified on that very early morning, and told no one, we know they must have told someone, eventually.  If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here today.
Maybe Mark ends the gospel this way to shock us, the ones who read and hear the words. He takes us to the moment and the feelings, the very early morning when no one could possibly have imagined Jesus alive again. He shows us the moment when no one could possibly have imagined God’s victory over death.
It was too much to believe, that first Easter morning.
But the story does not end this way. So very early on this first day of the week, we will tell it again.
(To be follow with a reading of Acts 10:34-43.)

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