They Said Nothing

They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

That’s something we don’t actually talk about when it comes to this day. How terrifying and weird Easter Sunday is. Church, I’m here to tell you… it’s way worse than that.

The women came to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. They were ready for death. They were thinking about how hard it would be to roll the stone away. When they arrived, the stone was already rolled back. Maybe you’ve had a similar feeling when you came home to find the garage door was already up.

There’s a young man dressed in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed but he says, “Don’t be alarmed. You’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has been raised. He is not here… But go tell his disciples that he is going on ahead of to Galilee, there you will see him, just as he told you.”

They fled and said nothing to anyone.

New life can do that to you. When the doctor handed Eve and later Sam over to us, Kate and I were stunned into silence. We said nothing to anyone. We didn’t have the words that would adequately fill the silence. The joys and fears of all the years were met in that moment, and we said nothing in that holy moment.

Maybe you felt the same. Felt your smallness in moments of new life. Yet also felt gigantic at the same time. It’s a strange feeling. Words don’t do it justice. It’s impossible to describe.

This Easter story is a weird story. This is the original ending of Mark. There are two other endings tacked on by other people in Mark, but I like this one. Like the parables we’ve been studying this past Lenten season, it has multiple interpretations, but the one I like the most is this: No one is going to do this for you.

There are no disciples coming to give you a 4-fold plan, a neat and tidy doctrine, or a program you can follow. You are the one who must go to Galilee and find the risen Christ. That will take effort and sacrifice on your part and why this whole Christian thing is a great experiment. Too often we’ve settled for neat and easy answers and programs and not the authentic way of life that the original ending of the Gospel of Mark gives us. You want a new life? Great! No one is going to do this for you. Go find your Galilee! Jesus is already there waiting on you. While you’re worrying about who will roll the stone away, it’s already done. Get moving! Find your new life!

I’ve heard the cry for new life for a while now. We were raised being told we don’t talk religion and politics in polite company. Yet we need new life in both sectors.

Our politics is just awful. Yet we say nothing to anyone. Or only to our closest friends. We ask, “Why doesn’t someone do something?!” Well, no one is going to do this for you. If you want new life, you’re going to have to die to your old one. Maybe stop watching the news. Maybe ask more questions. Maybe put down the screen and go talk to someone. If you hate the government, go talk to the Mayor. He’ll meet and listen and talk with you. Or your local council representative. They’d love to chat with you about the issues facing our community. You can talk with the police chief or sheriff. If you wonder about election fraud, go talk to the good folks at the  the board of elections. Vaccination questions, there’s our Medina County Board of Health. If you’re worried about our schools and “kids these days” you can talk with the superintendent, principals, and teachers to get the real deal.

No one is going to do it for you. You want new life, you can pursue it. No one will do this for you. You can’t buy it. You can’t order it from Amazon. You won’t find it on social media.

How about religion? There’s utter disappointment and abuse of trust by religious institutions. The complete misreading of Jesus and making up rules of who is in and who is out when the actual good news is that no one is outside the love of God. The prodigal is welcomed back and given a huge party! The elder son is invited to the party and reminded that everything the parent has is already theirs. And the parent who forgot to count their children attempts to restore the relationship.

Or the kingdom of God is like a treasure buried. Or a merchant in search of pearls. Or it’s like a net with a ton of fish in it. It’s also like the opposite of a king who will burn down the city to save his reputation… this is something you can’t be coerced into. You can’t be threatened with fire, and yet that’s what the reputation of the modern church is, “Turn or burn.” When the actual good news is “You are already beloved. Think differently about this gift of life and believe the beloved community is near.” Because it is. If you want new life, no one is going to do it for you. But there’s a community around here that will help resource you. You are not bereft of counsel. What new life are you seeking?

Purpose in your life and career? Ways to make a difference in your community? Looking for ways to feed the hungry, welcome the outcast, clothe the naked, shelter the unsheltered, and more? Oh boy! We have a lot of options! There’s a lot of new life to be had.

Yet I find myself hesitant to say anything…. Halfway through this rant about new life, I am hesitant because I don’t want to sell you a false bill of goods. I don’t want to sell you anything, actually. I just want to remind you like the young guy in the tomb did… Don’t look for new life among the dead. He is not here. He is going on ahead of you. Don’t be alarmed. New life is all around you.

I cannot half-believe in the resurrection. I see it everywhere. The resurrection is like frogs who literally freeze solid for the winter. When the spring thaw comes, they unfreeze and sing.

The resurrection is like a couple who were on the brink of divorce. Instead, they died to their old behaviors and became new people. They recommitted and lived their new lives until one or both of them died of natural causes.

Resurrection is the person with addiction admitting they have a problem and start on their path of sobriety. Resurrection is like the abused child who grows up into a loving adult who still bears the scars of their childhood but doesn’t transmit their pain because they transformed it.

The resurrection is like the CEO who made all the money, won all the awards, and sat alone in their massive house. They sold all they had and worked in a career center helping those with nothing find a path to a stable career, housing, and healing from all the wounds generational poverty inflicted on them.

The resurrection is like being sick and tired of being sick and tired, so you make a list of what you want to see in the world. Then you go find people who are like-minded and you get to work being the change you wish to see in the world.

No one is going to do this for you. If you want new life, all you have to do is die. And dying is no big deal, everyone does it sooner or later from the richest king to the lowest of the low. The great equalizer comes for us all.

You’re going to die anyway, might as well get it out of the way. Remove all that is dead in your life, and you’ll see new life. It won’t be right away, even God took some time to come back to life, but it will be there.

You might have been through something already that you didn’t think you’d get through. A job loss. A death in the family. Some traumatic thing. Some loss of identity. You didn’t think you’d make it, but as you take stock today, you’re still here. You’re still thriving. You’re living the life you dreamt about when all felt lost. You are right where you need to be. Surrounded by your community of friends, family, and chosen family who have loved you into being. Congrats! Yours is the kingdom!

This revolution will not be televised. Why? Because it’s really boring actually. That’s why so few people do it. It takes time and tending and growing and stops and starts and redirections. See? I told you I wasn’t selling you anything. There’s no program. There’s a lot of sitting and waiting and taking things a day at a time. One foot in front of another until you look back and you’re like, whoa! I covered a lot of miles. You won’t see this on TV or social media. Because good takes time. Brick by brick things are built. Yet what gets covered is when things fall down. Bad things happen immediately, that’s why we see so much of it. Hate is immediate. The algorithm is built to trigger you. It hits your lizard threat part of your brain and you just react. We’re not about that here. We’re after the mind of Christ, the higher function. We don’t want lizard people reacting and being mean. We want more kindness and encouragement and building good things and that all takes time.

If you’re looking for it, that is literally Meghan’s and my job to help you find the path to that new life. I think we’re good at it. We have done it ourselves. I’ve died a few times and come back. I even had some offers to help hurry along my death, but I didn’t take them up on it. They wanted me to shut up about a better religion than the ol’ toxic way we’ve always done it. They wanted me to shut up about my love for LGBTQ+ folk and those whom the church has deeply wounded. I’m still here. Message hasn’t changed.

My friend, the Rev. Joanna D’Agostino asked her kids if they knew why Jesus died. Her daughter Suzie said without skipping a beat, “They killed him because he wouldn’t stop talking about love.”

May the same be said of you. May you pursue this new life with everything you have. No one is going to do it for you, yet multitudes are waiting to help love you into being. How will you know you’re on the right track? Love. There will be plenty of temptations to hate. Don’t fall for it. There will be offers of power and wealth and fame. Don’t fall for it. New life in Christ requires none of these things.

Here’s the thing about love: it’s way harder than hate. You can load hate into a gun and shoot it into someone else. We don’t like it, but I think we understand it better than love. Yet when love shows up… we feel vulnerable. Exposed. Seen. A little nervous about the whole thing. At our last church Holy Dinner gathering, one friend said, “Let’s keep doing this. I just love you guys.” Kate and I talked later about how much we loved that. We love our Holy Dinner group, but to say it out loud?

Well… that’s the challenge isn’t it. No one is going to do this for us. Love requires nothing short of everything we have. And we’ll be exposed. People will talk. We will be changed by it.

So church… what shall you do? Will you risk speaking? Will you go and find Jesus in Galilee? Begin searching for new life? Or will you say nothing to anyone, for you are afraid?

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