My all-age talk for Easter morning! Based on Mark’s wonderful and challenging ending to his gospel. I’m in the camp that thinks that this was the original ending, that there wasn’t an extra bit, but that this was a good way of challenging his readers and hearers. The other (lectionary) reading is vaguely referred to, but I have enough trouble doing a good all-age talk on one reading… (I’ll let you judge how good a talk it actually is!).
I found both Susan Sayer’s resource book Living Stones and the generally excellent rootsontheweb very helpful for preparing this talk.
The women were trembling, they were afraid. What are you afraid of? What makes you trembling and afraid?
I’ve got a bag here. Is anyone brave enough to put a hand in? (As expected, no-one did!)
So, fear of the unknown. Fear of what we can’t see, and don’t know. (Eventually a large toy dog, a very large toy snake, and a fluffy toy spider were produced!)
Some of us are afraid of snakes, spiders, dogs. Some of us are afraid of heights, the dark.
The women were trembling and afraid.
And that’s where the gospel of Mark ends. It ends with women, trembling and bewildered. Trembling, confused, running away, afraid.
What helps when you’re afraid? Other people? Someone to be with you? To encourage you, to help you over your fear? Someone to bring in a light to shine in the darkness, someone to get rid of the spider, put a lead on the dog?
Or are we overcome by our fear? Because sometimes, most of us are.
Trembling and afraid, would we say anything? That’s where the gospel of Mark ends. But we know that’s not where the story ends.
Another bag. Is anyone brave enough to put their hand in this one? (They were!)
A chocolate Easter egg. Hands up who has had an Easter egg? Hands up who has already eaten one of their Easter eggs? What do you have to do to eat an Easter egg? You have to break it. (I did!)
Eggs have to be broken to let new life out. Jesus had to die to be raised to new life, and so that we all could have new life. Things have to break and die for new life to be released. We’ll hand round the chocolate at the end of the service.
The gospel of Mark ended with women trembling and afraid, saying nothing.
But, the story continued.
The Spirit moved the story on. God’s Holy Spirit turns everything upside down. God’s Holy Spirit brings God’s kingdom into our world. That’s scary sometimes. But God’s Holy Spirit can make us brave, can give us the words to say, can help us when we need it. God’s Holy Spirit can help us if we ask.
The women were trembling and afraid. But they were given the courage to speak by God’s Holy Spirit.
The men didn’t understand and didn’t believe what they were hearing. But they were given wisdom and faith by God’s Holy Spirit.
Peter didn’t understand how much of his world Jesus’ resurrection had turned upside down. But he was given a vision by the Holy Spirit to help him understand.
The story carried on. We know it carried on because we have heard about it.
We have heard that Jesus is alive. We have heard that he sent the Holy Spirit to bring God’s kingdom here on earth.
We know the story carried on, because we are invited to be a part of it.
We are invited to become part of God’s kingdom, to be given the Holy Spirit. We are invited to carry on the story.
We might still be afraid sometimes, we might not understand, or not really believe everything. We might not understand how much of a difference God is wants to make to our lives. We might not understand how much of a difference God wants us to make to our world. But, we are given the Holy Spirit to help us. And we are given each other to help us too.
So let’s ask God to help us to make a difference in our own lives, in the lives of those around us, to the life of Swadlincote, to the state of the world. Because with God’s help, we can. Amen