Date: Monday, December 9
Scripture: Mark 16:1-8
Verse: 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.” (Mark 16:6)
Author and speaker Jon Acuff recently posted a blog entry called “The part of a speech 99% of people ignore.” The ignored part, he says, is the end. He writes,
I would carefully construct my first thought. I would work on my opening joke like a maniac, choosing each word with great care. And then the ending? That I would let happen “organically.” I would just sort of end whenever and wherever I stopped talking. No wrap up, no well constructed close, just an end.
I’ve heard (and preached) a few sermons like that. I’ve also read books, watched movies, and been invested in television series whose endings leave a lot to be desired. I’d hoped for a wrap up, a conclusion – but instead the story/speech/sermon just seemed to fizzle out with an unspoken, “and that’s the end of that.”
Today’s scripture lesson is the last few verses we have of the Gospel of Mark from the earliest manuscripts. The rest of what we have printed in our Bibles are two endings believed to have been added a century or two later (check the footnotes in your Bible). It appears others were disappointed with the ending to this Gospel, so they finished it for us. Many scholars believe the original ending Mark wrote is missing; like a book whose last page(s) have fallen out. There is though, the possibility this is the ending Mark intended to remind us his story is not the end of the story but a beginning; to invite us to join in the story by meeting the living Jesus and continuing his work.
It may feel odd this week reading Easter passages during the Christmas season we call Advent. But it serves as a good reminder that we are not simply waiting for the advent of a cute baby in a manger. We are celebrating the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, and awaiting his second advent – into our lives and into the world. This Christmas may we remember we not only celebrate an event from the past, but a present reality. Jesus is alive!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I walk with you today as you continue your work of reconciling the world to God. Amen.
Action: Make a list of the roles you play in the stories of others – parent, child, coworker, friend, supervisor, etc. – and reflect on the role you play in God’s story for the world.
Respond: Have you ever been disappointed by an ending, or love another (I still can’t get over how the Newhart series ended in 1990)? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below.
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