Easter Sunday 2021 – “For All Peoples a Feast: Dare to Dance Again” Mark 16:1-8
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As you know when we read Jesus’ stories in the Bible, each Gospel describes things differently because each writer has a different emphasis and perspectives. In John 20 we see Mary Magdalene mistaking Jesus for a gardener, and clinging to him when he speaks her name. Peter runs here and there and the disciple whom Jesus loved looks cautiously into an empty tomb, and the risen Jesus commissions Mary to become an “apostle to the apostles”, who shares the great news of the resurrection with their scattered friends. John’s version is more like a drama with more actions and excitements. But, Mark’s version is filled with unease. There are no glimpses of the risen Jesus. Peter and the other disciples are nowhere to be seen. According to Mark, the eleven remaining disciples have run off. When a young man in a white robe tells Mary Magdalene and her two companions that Jesus has been raised from the dead, the women don’t cry out in joy. Rather they respond with “alarm,”
“terror,” and “amazement.” We see no Easter proclamation. Instead, we witness fear, flight, and silence. With Mark’s version, it is hard to imagine a joyful scene of the risen Lord.
Today we celebrate Easter, the high point of our Christian year. But because of the pandemic, this year also most of us won’t celebrate in the traditional ways as we have done. Some of us won’t gather in person at all. Some of our congregation sit masked and socially distanced within our worship space here and unable to sing and share the communion elements around the communion table. And many of us cannot enjoy a festive brunch with friends or extended family after church. Most significantly, while we proclaim that “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!”, we celebrate in the midst of the 2.7 million beloveds we’ve lost for this worldwide pandemic. We celebrate the empty tomb while we still see loneliness, depression, and anxiety, and the ongoing violence and racial tension in the streets and institutions. We proclaim, shout loud ‘Alleluia’ in church, but it seems like our situations daily are not that much joyful. We are still weary, bewildered. We are still sad. Perhaps we are more like the women at the tomb trembling in alarm than Mary Magdalene in John 20 who was surprised, joy filled and went to share the good news immediately.