Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed, hallelujah!


An extract from Stephen's Easter letter:


Mark’s account of the first Easter ends on a puzzling note (Mark 16:8).  An empty tomb, a mysterious young man declaring that Jesus had been raised but offering little proof.  The promise of Jesus going ahead to meet them in Galilee, and women who were so overwhelmed and afraid of what they found that they said nothing to anyone.  In many ways it’s a strange ending which fails to satisfy our curiosity.  It’s also an ending which does not stand too comfortably at the side of many of our Easter hymns, or even the other Gospel accounts.  It is probably a sense of disappointment with the ending that resulted in what most scholars now agree is the later addition of the two alternative endings we find in our Bibles today. (Mark 16:8b and 9-20).


Mark 16:8 is an ending that lacks triumph and joy, but instead it appears to be shot through with confusion and terror.  It’s like the ending to a film that you’ve watched and been excited by, only to have the credits roll leaving you wanting to know more.  It can’t end there!  What about so and so?  How do they get out of that?  What about the reaction of the disciples?  What happens when Peter finds out?


As the celebration of Easter fades into another year, we might have to admit that we still live in confusion and ambiguity.  We desperately want the Gospel to end on a note of victory, but that was not the way Mark wanted to relate the truth of Jesus Christ.  In these days we know all too well through our own experience that the way of discipleship is not one continuous triumphant procession through the world, but it is rather more often punctuated by uncertainty.  It may seem that Mark’s Gospel ends on a pessimistic note because the women fail to report what they have seen and heard, but we need to remember that the Gospel is not about the failure of the disciples, rather it is about the power of God which overcomes human inadequacies.  The ending of Mark reminds me that it is a Gospel that works through and in spite of human failure and doubt.

Many commentators have helpfully pointed out that as the Gospel of Mark ends we are encouraged to be a part of the on-going story.  There is unfinished business, the baton has been passed on to us and we’re encouraged to share the news - not in spite of our fear and doubting, but because of it!  At this most special time of year, between Easter and Pentecost, may we be aware of the Son of God who shares our journey, and calls us to play our own particular part in the Gospel story.


To read the full letter from Stephen, click here