An Easter Cliffhanger

There is no more brilliant literary surprise, I think, in all of scripture than the shocking cliffhanger abruptness of Mark’s resurrection account. Literally inspired. Its stark brevity leaves the remainder of Year B Eastertide Sundays scrambling for resurrection narratives from Luke and John. But its pointed question hangs over them all, as it hangs over our own narratives: What will you do with the resurrection news?

In a sense, the Book of Acts is the early community’s answer to that very question. These Sunday readings therefrom work out some Easter implications pastorally, socially, economically, and politically. The answers we glimpse are as stunning as the question.

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April 3, Easter

The Opening Door

Acts 10:34-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Mark 16:1-8

The women disciples who have the nerve to stand by, eyes and hearts open at the foot of the cross, are also the ones with the nerve to attend the grave when the Sabbath is over. The legal unreliability of women as witnesses (so the culture had it) is often noted for its irony. (And ironically as evidence of historical veracity, on the premise that no church concocting testimony would begin with women witnesses: Notice, indeed, that Paul and Peter omit them utterly in today’s lections.)

The degree of their courage, however, is generally unaccounted. This movement has been targeted and ostensibly crushed. The shepherd has been struck so that the sheep will scatter. But the women hang in. They refuse to go quietly away. Their act of memory and mourning and the freedom of their continuing open association has been compared to the Mothers of the Disappeared standing watch in one plaza or another.

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Sojourners Magazine April 1994
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