It is a pretty well accepted fact among scholars that Mark’s original gospel ended at verse 16:8. Verses 9-20 were added quite a bit later, possibly in an attempt to harmonize it with the other gospel stories. Or perhaps the original ending did not test well with focus groups. Some find it to be a bit of a downer, full of uncertainty and lacking closure, like the final episode of the Sopranos. But this unexpected ending should not be unexpected if one has been paying attention through the rest of the book. Fortunately, we have been paying attention, so we’re going to be looking at the director’s cut this Sunday.
Verse 16:8 says this: “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.” That’s it. No meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus. No Thomas touching the wounds. No fish and toast on the beach. Just an empty tomb and the promise that Jesus is going ahead to Galilee – the place it all began – and the disciples will see him there.
Surely Mark knew stories of Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe he knew that everyone else knew those stories, too, so why bother writing them down? But everyone knew the story he’s telling, everything he has written so far; that didn’t stop him from telling it. He could have included something – something critical to the Christian story – but didn’t. Instead, he leaves us hanging, wondering what happened next. I suspect it is that wonder that inspired someone to add to Mark’s gospel, to finish what might appear unfinished. It’s understandable, but maybe there’s a better way to honor Mark’s vision of the good news.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we talk about beginning again, continuing the story of God’s ongoing presence in the world.
Grace and Peace,
Just as we did last year, we will be participating in Advent Conspiracy this year. Advent Conspiracy seeks to recover the meaning of Christmas as the in-breaking of God into the world. As such, it turns a critical eye toward the rampant consumerism that Christmas has become and asks us to spend less money and more time and attention on the ones we love. To help with that, Church in the Cliff will be hosting craft days to make handmade cards and gifts on three Saturdays during Advent, Dec. 1, 8, and 15, from 10am to noon at Kidd Springs Rec Center. Come join in the crafty fun!
Here’s the schedule for Sunday services:
Dec. 2 – Worship Fully
Dec. 9 – Spend Less
Dec. 16 – Give More
Dec. 23 – Love All
Since we’ll all be spending less, we will be taking up a special offering every Sunday during Advent to donate to people who are really in need. Please give what you can.