A different kind of hope

…[V]ery early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been
saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

This is how the story of Jesus’s resurrection begins: in darkness, in fear, and in sadness. I suppose we should also add: frustration. The women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body were frustrated. There was a big stone in front of the tomb; while these two were strong, they wouldn’t be able to roll away the stone. With whom were they frustrated? As is the way with most unresolved grief as it comes and goes like waves on a beach, frustration lands everywhere, on everyone. They don’t say so, but I suspect while they were pointing at everyone and everywhere else, they were also likely frustrated with themselves. And, again likely, though they voice frustration with the stone, the stone was not the only thing about which they were frustrated. Why couldn’t we have done something to stop this nonsense? Why didn’t we put a stop to all of this? Now there’s nothing we can do. We’re going to anoint his body, sure. But anointing is only to preserve Jesus’s body and to hold back the scent that revealed everything was done and over. There’s nothing more to see here. Maybe, as we prepare to gather on Sunday morning, for worship, yes, for the Lord’s Supper, yes, for music and prayers and a sermon, yes, there’s also a conversation after the service. The conversation will have us come face to face with the very things the women faced at the tomb. And maybe that frustrates us. Or, maybe it saddens us. And, maybe we still don’t believe what is happening is, well, happening. Maybe we want to find ways to resuscitate our life together. Maybe we’re convinced we still can. Maybe we’re so in grief over this we can’t see straight.

Like the women at the tomb, we are frustrated. We are all frustrated.

It turns out the stone was already rolled away. Did something happen with Jesus’s body? It could have; this sort of thing happened then. Their frustration grew more intense. “…[H]e is not here; he has been raised,” they were told. And, this is the news around which we gather each week: Jesus is raised. Out of fear and frustration comes even a sliver of hope. “Do not be afraid,” they are told. “Do not be afraid,” we are told, too. For however our frustration and fear have settled around us, the last word on all that is before the women…and before us…is a hope for which none of us could fathom. Yes, what we expected has come to an end. Yet, the news the two heard by his tomb, and the news we hear now, reframes our frustration. If not this, then what? In the Gospel of Mark, the story of Jesus’s resurrection ends without resolution. And though many had hoped for a different kind of resolution, what comes next is not yet resolved for us. All we know is that Jesus is on the loose, from the beginning to the end and even beyond that.

The resurrected Jesus is in our midst, now, on the loose. Will we trust that in this ending, there is still a different kind of hope?

Will we? Will we?

See you Sunday. Jenny and I will bring doughnuts – eight dozen – upon which we all can munch as we
ponder a different kind of hope.

In Christ,
Pastor Paul Lutter