Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: This Is Not the End
- The author alludes to the differences between the endings of the Gospel of Mark and of the other three Gospels. Does your Bible include verses 9 – 20 of Mark 16? What information can you find (perhaps in a study Bible or online) about the addition of those verses?
- How do you reconcile hard times and endings with the Easter message of new beginnings? Has your understanding shifted in the current situation of pandemic?
- What resurrection is evident in your life this year? What resurrections do you observe in your church, in your local community, in the world? What new things are being born?
This Is Not the End
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. – Mark 16:8 (NRSV)
“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, there they will see me.” – Matthew 28:10 (NRSV)
Mark ended his masterpiece of a gospel on a cliffhanger – a resurrection with question marks. Luke, Matthew and John, writing later, embellished the story, adding multiple appearances and new miracles by the risen Jesus. Maybe they had better intel than Mark. Maybe they created fiction for a people craving hope. Or maybe they had a lived experience of a Christ who kept showing up, shaping and saving their lives.
A double-thousand years later, we pick up these four stories and find our own resurrections in them, every year. The original Easter story has still never ended. It goes on, in endless song, above earth’s lamentations.
When the humans I love are facing hard times, which seems to be all the time these days, I am fond of lifting up the modern proverb: “Everything turns out alright in the end. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”
We will not all survive the current apocalypse. We will not all be raised from our sickbeds or our tombs. Some of us will lose jobs or businesses we have spent a lifetime building. Marriages that might have made it otherwise, absurdly pressured by quarantine, will end in divorce.
But after all of these endings, there will be new beginnings – some of them visible, tellable; others beyond the veil of earthly death.
Easter is not a history lesson with a tidy ending, but an invitation to look past death in all its disguises. After every death, new things get born. You may sometimes have a year of Good Fridays, but Easter will always arrive. It is as inevitable as sunrise after the long night.
God, your servants didn’t write four resurrection stories, but eight billion. We are all little gospels, still being told. Thank you for telling us. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.