Would you flee in fear, or gaze in awe? | Church Corner

There are many beautiful symbols for Easter. Spring flowers are wonderful symbols. Bright yellow daffodils bring us the good news: the darkness of winter is over and the promise of new life bursts forth in a profusion of sun-bright yellow. I like to think that the daffodils are the trumpets that declare the good news of that first Easter morning, “the tomb is empty!” Easter lilies burst forth in bright white color to bring light into the darkness of winter.

Butterflies are another good symbol of Easter, new life emerging from the darkness of the tomb-like cocoon that has held them captive. Emerging in beautiful colors, they float free and bring a sense of quiet peace as they drift on the wind. Even brightly colored eggs mark the day as a sign of new life, although, sorry, there are not any biblical references to chocolate eggs or Easter bunnies. Still, the smiles on children’s faces as they search for the eggs hidden in plain sight reflect the good news of Easter morning.

Easter morning seems to bring out smiles. The day just bursts with hope and joy as the good news that Christ is alive is heard once again. One of my favorite Easter greetings is from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Wearing their best Easter smiles, people look at each other and declare, “Christ is alive…for I can see him in your face!”

An empty tomb is also a symbol of Easter, but the women at the tomb that first Easter morning weren’t wearing smiles. They had seen their hope for the futurecrucified just three days before. There was not much to smile about as they thought about the grisly task before them, anointing the body of Jesus with burial spices.

Each of the gospel writers reports the account of the women at the tomb a little bit differently. But the account that is the most puzzling is the account from the Gospel of Mark. The earliest manuscripts of the ending of Mark’s gospel end very abruptly. The women simply flee the tomb in amazement and fear and tell no one. That’s it. No good news shared, no “Christ is alive…for I can see him in your face,” no shouts of “Happy Easter.” They simply flee the tomb and tell no one.

It wasn’t until some 100 to 200 years later that the “shorter” ending of Mark was written, and maybe as many as 200 to 400 years later that the “longer” ending of Mark was written. Almost universally, scholars hold that the original ending of Mark is at Chapter 16 verse 8. The women flee in fear (don’t criticize the women, the men fled three days before) and they run off telling no one.

You might say the original Gospel of Mark was an unfinished story. Maybe it was written that way because the ending wasn’t an ending, but simply the prelude to a new beginning. A beginning that was yet to be written, but would soon to unfold throughout the world.

This Holy Week, as you journey to the hope and promise of Easter morning, how would you write the ending of Mark? Would you flee in amazement and fear, telling no one, or would you gaze in awe at this miraculous thing God has done, and shout it from the mountaintops?

May your Easter and every day be filled with God’s blessings.

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