Practicing Resurrection: Trembling (Mark 16:1-8)

A series of reflections on Jesus’ resurrection appearances, contributed by past and present Pepperdiners. I made this one. Baked with love.

Mark 16:1-8 Resurrection is announced, and the disciples are afraid

One of my favorite movies – in case you haven’t seen it, I’m trying to avoid spoiling the end* – is a thriller from the 90s telling the story of a man who had become complacent, and what it took to wake him up. The most brilliant aspect of the film, to me, is that while I was at the edge of my seat the entire time, completely lost about what forces and powers were responsible for his increasingly dangerous circumstances, in the end it becomes clear that from the beginning the audience (and the character) was told exactly what would take place. Fearful and bewildered, we discover that we already knew the ending. Credits rolling, I sat there, amazed at the truth that was always before me.

In my community of faith and learning, we’ve all signed up for a rhythm of study meant to disorient and reorient us. Every semester begins with a fully mapped out calendar of topics, tests, and trials. We’ve done this before; we know how it works. Here we are in finals week again, and here we are fighting the uncertainty, surprise and panic that comes anyway, every fourteen weeks or so.

Last weekend, and for the next few, we will celebrate our graduates, their work and accomplishments, and hope and pray with them for bright futures in a new phase of life. It will be a significant date for everyone, regardless of the fact that it has been an obvious fact on the registrar’s calendar, in black and white since day one. “It happened!” we exclaim, astonished, and “What’s possibly next!?”

We just don’t really know what’s going to happen. These first disciples of Jesus, these women who are first to arrive at Easter, had been told everything they needed to know to prepare them for the empty tomb. But they are struck trembling and speechless by the reality of it.

Because no amount of facts and assurances can bring about trust.

What resurrection says, though, is that God can be trusted. I can come to today’s uncertainties, commitments, hopes and fears knowing that when I get there, the tomb will be empty. That story is told, and all my stories now are part of the promise that God holds the end. Until I get there, through the turns and twists, I am free to trust or not, believe or not, doubt or not. When I get there, I can expect to find exactly what was promised. I’ll likely celebrate, even with the spoiler in mind.

A teacher/friend shared with me recently that Kierkegaard says we have to “make the truth true.” It’s okay that I am bewildered and afraid. I’m just wired that way. But, eventually, like these disciples, as I release my expectations, the outcomes I’ve worked for, and the deep conviction that it’s just not going to work out, a way ahead opens up. As I step into it – trust the truth – I find new ways to live that allow it to be truth I depend on, walk in, live and love by. I am becoming true, myself.

Becoming convinced God really is in control, if I surrender my obstinate wiring to God’s way today, I see that the fear will pass. Someday, all that will be left is the glory. I pray that today I will let this story of resurrection wake me up to the glory before my eyes, even now. The more I trust in this, the more I see that today is exactly the New Creation I signed up for.

*If you can’t stand the suspense, click here for the link to this film.


2 responses to “Practicing Resurrection: Trembling (Mark 16:1-8)

  1. I just would like to note for the record…I guessed right. Great film – one of our favorites.

    And also, no lesser, great post. “I can come to today’s uncertainties, commitments, hopes and fears knowing…” that God can be trusted.


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