Mark 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

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. Mark 16:1-8

This is how the writer of the gospel of Mark, the earliest of the four gospels, chose to end his story: “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.”

Ironically, I’m writing this the morning after the presidential election. It looks very much like President Trump might get a second term in office but this has been a very different election year and many ballots still haven’t been counted. Due to the pandemic, an unprecedented number of votes were cast before election day. This too is not how we like elections to end.

No doubt your Bibles will have two other “endings” to Mark. There will be footnotes explaining that most scholars consider these to be later additions. Additions written by people like us (and like the writers of Matthew, Luke, and John) who didn’t like Mark’s ending either.

“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.”

But, in my life experience, Mark’s ending does a pretty good job of describing how most Christians respond to the resurrection.

My roommate in college was the son of the big Lutheran church in my hometown. One day he said something about how another friend of ours used to act in confirmation class. I was amazed! “HE was a member of Bethel?” “Yes he was,” said Joel, and then he named several of my other friends who were also members of the same church.

I thought I knew just about everything about those guys. But I never knew where they went to church. They never told me. They never invited me to anything. They never spoke a word to me about the Christian faith. Why? Didn’t they really believe any of it? Or, were they just afraid?

Look around at the congregation you participate in – how many people are there because someone from the congregation made a specific effort to share their faith with them, share their reasons why they believe as they do, why they made a commitment to a specific congregation, and then invited them to come and try it out for themselves?

Why are people so hesitant to talk about their faith?

We might not like Mark’s ending because it hits too close to home. But perhaps we should see here a bit of “reverse psychology”. Maybe if we were less fearful about sharing the faith as we understand it, other people who need God in their lives might be receptive to discovering anew that God has been waiting for them in Galilee all this time.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, forgive us our fears in sharing our faith. Give us the confidence to tell our own stories. And give us the willingness to invite others to come and see for themselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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