I remember the first time that I saw a magician make someone disappear. It was a spectacular experience. His name was something like the Amazing Santini and he took the stage with exuberant music playing in the background. Soon this man in a cape introduced a beautiful assistant with feathered blond hair in a glittery leotard. He helped her into a shiny box with slits on its side on a cart with wheels. He turned the box around so that we could see that there was no trick door behind. Pulling out three swords he banged them together making a loud metallic noise. They were obviously not fake. With a swift move he stuck one through a slit. There seemed to be a little bit of resistance, but the hole that had the hand of the lovely assistant still waved a red kerchief to show that she was all right. Sticking all three swords through those holes there appeared to be no blood dripping onto the stage. Yet with a high pitched scream the hand fell limp. We all gasp as the magician gave us a look of shock.
Covering the box with his cape he lowered his head as if sad. I thought I saw the cape move ever so softly. Then with a sudden idea he began to turn the box around swiftly three times. Grabbing the cape it slipped off the box slick as silk. There was the box, there were the swords, but in the hole there was no hand. The magician gave us a shocked look and loosened the latch to give us a view inside. She was gone and all that remained inside were the crisscrossed swords.
The magician looked confused. Where had she gone? Then he looked like he had an idea. He closed the box and withdrawing the swords one by one he placed them back in their holder. Then he put the cape back over the box. Grasping its edges he swung it around three more times and dramatically circled his hands over it. Again I thought I saw the cape disturbed for a second. Then he violently pulled the cape from the box and in the hole was a woman’s hand holding a red kerchief. Opening the box the lovely assistant was helped down by the magician to thunderous applause. It was quite a trick done with trap doors and slight of hand. That is what magic is, it makes things appear to happen that have rational, deductive answers.
If that type of magic is what you are expecting from Jesus this Easter you will be sadly disappointed. This is resurrection not magic. This is life where there once was death, not resuscitation. David Copperfield will not enter through the narthex to give you his deep penetrating stare and boney hand gestures to conjure up Jesus. It is simply not going to happen, nor is it what happens in the gospel text.
I particularly like the original ending to the book of Mark. I am struck by how descriptively simple it is. I am amazed by what is not described by Mark. There are the women, the empty tomb, a strange man declaring the resurrection, but no Jesus. He is off stage somewhere. We are told that is his in Galilee waiting for his disciples to meet him. No proof, no spectacular angels, no disguised appearances in a garden, but an anonymous man proclaiming that Jesus is risen and tell everyone to meet him in Galilee.
Galilee? What is the significance of Galilee? That is strange, isn’t that where the book of Mark begins, in Galilee? We are told that in the beginning of his ministry Jesus came to Galilee ad said, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” If this is where his disciples are told to look for Jesus maybe we should start looking for him there. I’m sure if I reread Mark I could find Christ. The kingdom is near, change and believe it is good news. What a resurrection message. It is the message, not only in the words of a printed text, but living somewhere nearby. I’m sure if I went back and read the story again it would cause me to see Christ again in the faces of many that I encounter in my life. I would encounter Christ and my life would be transformed from something old into something new and filled with new possibilities.
We have come here looking for the risen Christ. He is not here. What are you looking for? This place is an empty tomb, a shell. He can not be contained by this place. Can’t you see that? It is a cavern unless inhabited. You have come seeking a risen Jesus and he is not here. All that is left of him here is the wisp of his Spirit that resides within us. Galilee must be a place that we can go to meet Jesus. I suspect that there are plenty of people in your life that could show you Christ if you are willing to change and receive good news. If you expect to see Jesus you will have to go out and meet him in our neighborhood, in Tenley park, Columbia Heights, Anacosta, Arlington, Cabin John, Bethesda, Chevy Chase and the uttermost parts of the earth.
2 Comments so far
Leave a comment