Monday, April 9, 2018

Supplemental Texts

As I've written here several times, Mark is my favorite account of the gospel. It's quick and raw and unpolished. The clearest example of Mark's peculiar approach to telling the good news of Jesus is his account of the resurrection. We did not read Mark 16 on Easter Day, but you'll remember how the empty tomb is recalled for us. The women go to the tomb to further prepare Jesus' body for burial, and, when they arrive, they see that the stone is rolled away. When they enter the tomb, they meet an angel who declares to them that Jesus has been raised. The angel commissions them to go and tell the disciples that the risen Lord will meet them in Galilee, and they flee in fear, telling no one what they had seen.

That's it. The end. There's the extra bit that someone tacked on later about drinking poison and handling serpents, but what we have of Mark's original account includes no first-person appearances of the resurrected Jesus. Mark doesn't recall for us any of the post-Easter moments when Jesus appears to his disciples. Instead, Mark invites our belief in the unwitnessed miracle of Easter. I love that appeal to mystery. Because I like Mark so much, Year B in the three-year lectionary cycle is my favorite. So, when I looked at this coming Sunday's gospel lesson and saw that it comes from Luke, I was confused and disappointed.

The story of Luke 24:36b-48 is a good one. Jesus appears to the disciples on a beach, proclaims peace to them, invites them to see and touch his risen body, and eats some fish with them. Dead men don't eat fish (or something like that). And the point is made. Luke wants us to know that Jesus really, really rose from the dead. But that seems to be the opposite of Mark. Reading from Luke now feels like sitting down to a nice Italian meal with an antipasta, a pasta, and a nice piece of veal, but finishing the meal with a piece of apple pie a la mode. It just doesn't fit.

Later this week, I'll write more about Sunday's gospel lesson and what it contributes to our celebration of Easter. First, since I was out of town for a wedding this weekend, I need to listen to my colleague's sermon and hear what he preached about Jesus' peace-proclaiming, touch-inviting appearance to the disciples in John 20. Before I can get to this Sunday's sermon, however, I need to let go of my Year B mindset and listen to the Easter story through Luke. A good piece of apple pie, after all, goes with almost anything.

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