- Pastor A.J. Houseman
"And Then..." Easter 2021 by Pastor A.J. Houseman
So I’m a fan of fantasy book series. Most have like 3 books in them in the young adult series. I’m not ashamed, for my free time reading, this is the stuff I dive into. In fact, I’m starting a new book series tomorrow as soon as I sit down on the airplane. It’s called The Last Hours series. There are three other series that you need to read first just to get to this one in this magical world.
It’s the 4th series in the Mortal Instruments world with shadowhunters. You can blame my friend, Jon Fry, for introducing me to this world. Anyways, Cassandra Clare, the author, is in the middle of a new series and I’m dying to dig in.
But this first book in this series came out a year ago and I didn’t read it then. I waited.
For what? Why wait? You may ask. I’m addicted to this author's magical world that she has created. Again, the three other series, one of which is six books long. And also, many short stories.
So needless to say, I was super excited for this book to come out.
I was sharing this with Carley recently about how excited that I was that this author is putting out another series but that I didn’t want to start the first one yet.
But I didn’t want to start it because what happens when I get to the end?
I get to the end and it's a cliffhanger. And I have to wait a whole year or maybe longer for the next part to come out?! What am I supposed to do in the meantime?
And she, of course, thought I was crazy, understandably. But I struggle with the cliffhanger.
Today we reach the ultimate Gospel cliffhanger. The gospel of Mark doesn’t have quite the same poetic flow as John, or even Matthew or Luke. The author of the Gospel of Mark wants to get straight to the point.. No fluff. Keep it short and sweet. Let the audience know what they need to and nothing more. So we hear the language: this happens, then this, then this, then immediately this, then this, then they went there, then they did this….
It kind of reads like a pretty dry journal entry. Nothing like fiction or a glamorous tale about a child of angels and men known as Nephelim fighting demons. (Thats the book I’m going to dive into tomorrow.) Its adventure level is a little closer to revelations.
The Gospel of Mark is straight forward and concise. In our reading for today if you were to read it in the ancient Greek, the last word in Mark 16:8 in Greek is “gar” which is a conjunction. Meaning that grammatically something has come before and then there's another statement that comes after. A gar B, A then B, is a unit, a sequence of an event. It follows the pattern of how the Gospel of Mark is written. The author uses a lot of “then immediately” they went…. Then this happened… then that happened. Gar...
In some Bibles you will see the title at the end of verse 8 here labeled “the shorter ending of Mark” and then the last eleven verses, verses 9-20, labeled the “longer ending of Mark.”
The reason for this is that those last eleven verses are not in the original manuscripts, they were added later by a different author. SO
So for the original author of the gospel of Mark, the entire story leaves off, “gar”.... “And then…” a total cliff hanger.
I can imagine why someone went and wrote some more to it. If they are like me, then…. Then what? What happens next? I’ve got to know!!!
They needed there to be more of the story. I get it. I imagine them hanging on those every words waiting for what comes next. Wondering how long it will be until the sequel comes out. I mean, this isn’t the Gospel of Luke that literally has a sequel, it’s the book of Acts.
No the communities that relied on the Gospel of Mark had no such thing. “So they fled from the tomb, seized with terror and amazement; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. And then…”
And the person who translated the original ending leaves this “gar” off the end of English version.
And then… It's almost like the author of Mark is saying to us, “and then your story begins.” That our story is the sequel.
Because Easter morning is where our story starts. We are Easter people. People born into the death and resurrection of Christ. Our story begins when God chose not to stay dead.
When God said, “I see you humans putting my son to death, and I am going to fix it. I am going to make all things new, here and now.” This is the beginning of a new creation that is reconciled in Christ Jesus.
We are this new creation. God has made us new.
It’s not just a happy Easter then move on. It’s not just yay, he’s risen, gar…. Because we live on the other side of the gar. We are the part B. Jesus set up an awesome one for us to follow.
On Maundy Thursday, I shared that the world Maundy means commandment, and on Maundy Thursday we celebrate Jesus giving his new commandment. And that new commandment is this: “That you should love one another as I have loved you.”
This is where we pick up with the sequel, going out into the world freely loved and redeemed by Christ to share this love with everyone.
I may have to wait for my book series ending still, but we know what comes after the gar here, the “and then…”, we know about the beauty that was left for us all to share in the resurrection.
So let’s make the most of the sequel, and not be one of those, like, you know, straight to DVD sequels. No, let’s go out into the world into this new creation that God has made and do the big work of the sequel. You know, the things Jesus did and challenges us to all do. To love. To love all and love often.
Go enjoy the sequel! And thanks be to God for part one! Alleluia Jesus is Risen!
(He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)