We are recreating that final match this morning, and this is your final match: (SHOW SCREEN, ASK FOR ANSWERS) (Empty ______)
I will come back to the answers for the final match later....
We read the resurrection story from Mark's gospel this year.
“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 and Luke both report that the women entered the tomb. A tomb at that time would have had a small open area alongside a shelf where the body would be laid. The women could enter and see the grave clothes, but they were just cloth, no body there. There is no body to anoint, the grave clothes hold no remains. John reports just strips of linen with the head-cloth folded up.
So what were they to make of all this? And Mark's ending is quite different than the other 3 gospels. There is no Mary Magdalene weeping at the feet of her Lord, whom she'd mistaken for the gardener. No road to Emmaus where Jesus revealed his identity in the breaking of the bread. There is no appearance recorded of Jesus greeting his followers in the upper room with the promise of peace; no appearance of Jesus at all. Here's how Mark ends, the women “went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” The end. Well, the end of Mark's original gospel. If you look up Mark in your bibles at home, you'll find some editors in later years evidently decided this wasn't an acceptable way to end. Verses were added that are probably noted in your bible as the “shorter ending and the longer ending of Mark”. Now don't you want a brighter ending than, “they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid”? Of course, we know that's not the full story. So our question becomes, why would an author end in such an unsatisfying note?
Perhaps for Mark, who, according to the experts was the first to record the life of Jesus; perhaps Mark wanted us to struggle with this mystery of resurrection. Life in Christ can be a mystery. We often struggle in our search for God's will, sometimes there seems to be an emptiness that we can't seem to fill. Maybe Mark wanted us to know that God's truth is not always easy; God's way can be a mystery while we walk on this earth. We know only in part.... And while our eyes, like the women at the tomb, may perceive only emptiness, we can know that the Lord is alive and well and working behind the scenes.
Now I want to share a video I ran across some time ago. It gave me the idea for the Match Game theme. We shared some ideas of Empty blank... as does this video.
The empty tomb gives us hope when we face the emptiness of disappointment, misery, heartache and anxiety. The empty tomb doesn't give us all the answers, but it holds for us the promise that the troubles in this life are redeemed in the resurrected Lord. Many of us have faced the emptiness shown in our video. Empty nest for most of us, empty heart for each of us in one way or another. But what the empty tomb reminds us is that there is a bigger picture than what we see in the here and now. Our most fundamental creed in the church is this, “Jesus is Lord.” Peter in his sermon recorded in Acts says:
“You know the message he sent... preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all” Lord of the empty heart--we live in the hope of seeing our loved ones again. Lord of the empty tomb--he defeated the power of death. Lord of even empty hope--for even when we lose sight of God's hand in our lives, the Holy Spirit is at work. We can be frustrated, angry, sorrowful, lost—but God... my favorite bible phrase, but God can work all things together for our good. An empty tomb means that God's promises are sure.
The women left the tomb in fear. Their fear came from not understanding why there was an empty tomb. We know that the followers of Jesus rallied and spread the good news after being in the presence of the risen Lord. We gather here in the presence of the Lord, by association and by the sacrament of communion. No longer fearful, strengthened for the journey by the truth of the resurrection. Empty tomb... risen, conquering Savior... victory over death and sin. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Amen.
Hymn: Thine Be the Glory