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When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

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As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. Jesus risen is like the ultimate April Fools prank. Ok, just in case, I just made that up! He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.

Did you catch it?


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Nothing more. If your bible has verses beyond Mark it should also have a footnote saying that those verses were added many, many years later. No one! April Fool! Instead, Mark tells you if you want to see Jesus you have to go back to Galilee. That means going back to the beginning — as in back to the beginning of the gospel — and read it again!

He is risen indeed! Terror and amazement sound like a bad thing — but the actual Greek words are tromos and ekstasis — that means trembling and ecstasy. Trembling and ecstasy! Because once they were blind, but now they could see! It just stops.


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  • It totally leaves us hanging. See how I was going to tie that whole symphony thing together?! Instead, you get an invitation to join the journey and encouragement to keep travelling. Whatever may be going on in your life the promise of Easter is that a new season of abundant life awaits. He was raised up. Just like we can be raised up from our tombs. Right here, right now. Mark avoids all that by leaving us guessing. Go back to the start and see for yourself! He is risen — but you still have to learn to see him. Was the resurrection of Jesus an elaborate hoax?

    Did the disciples just make up the story? Is Easter a scam? Absolutely not! You make a hoax that turns you into a millionaire, not a martyr. That those confused and bewildered duh-sciples were transformed into passionate evangelizers who started a movement that eventually overtook the Roman Empire is all the proof I need that the resurrection really happened! I get it. It must seem entirely foolish to them. There you will see him, just as he told you! Jesus causes a fuss as he makes a dramatic and theatrical entrance into the city.

    People crowd around. There is singing and cheering. And there is Jesus on a donkey, tapping into an ancient Jewish writing about how a new king will arrive. However it gets packaged in the story-telling, there is one fundamental thing we ought to notice and learn from this — Jesus has chutzpah! I used a fancy word for it — temerity — because it fit with all my other key words during Lent — cruciformity, integrity, receptivity, and tenacity. So temerity is the perfect word, but chutzpah has more…chutzpah!!! Temerity means boldness, rashness, brazen nerve, shameless audacity, gall, cheek, impudence, impertinence, and probably some more colourful colloquialisms you might know.

    What chutzpah! What are you thinking about all this? The city is buzzing about this Jesus guy. Pride, energy, validation, hope, excitement. I wish I had as much chutzpah as Jesus! Who does he think he is? How dare he? That fool has too much chutzpah for his own good — or ours! Imagine you are Jesus. Foliage waving, people singing your praises, everyone looking at you. Calling you king!

    He knew exactly the underlying messages he was sending. He knew he was poking the bear. He knew what was bound to happen next. Of course, we all know what happens next in the story too. Maybe those buttons absolutely need pushing, but there are going to be consequences.

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    And the Romans who keep him on the throne as their puppet are not going to take kindly to some rabble-rouser coming in and claiming to be a new king. How dare he?! The temerity!

    Do you? Such was my El Salvador mantra. Our group included 15 youth and 22 adults. As I said, one of the best parts of the trip for me was my mantra: No tengo responsibilidades en absoluto! It was so great to just get on and off the bus and not fuss or worry, and to just savour the experiences.

    I was just a learner and a participant! Having never done anything like this before, and moving way outside our comfort zone, off we went. The point of this mission awareness trip was not necessarily to make us all into passionate El Salvadoran champions. The point was to become aware of the positive difference that partnering in mission can make.

    The point was to learn from those partners and grow deeper in faith. The point was to help us become aware of these things so that when a potential mission opportunity presents itself — like what happened to our leader, our Conference Executive Secretary, the Rev. The Salvadoran attended Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel back home, so he recognized the word.

    He went in and was warmly welcomed. That started an amazing partnership that has touched hundreds and hundreds of lives.

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    He went, and the partnership between the United Church and them, and between Bill and their pastor Miguel Thomas Castro, was inaugurated. Our trip was part of the fruit of that missional partnership. The purpose of this trip was not primarily to get us to fall in love with El Salvador and her people although that was a happy by-product. The purpose was to transform us and open us to our own potential as mission partners in whatever context we find ourselves.

    The need is profound. I am a sinner and so are you. And the reason for that is we have inherited a theological set of understandings that are sometimes not very helpful — and a lot of the talk about sin belongs in that category.

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    It is Lent, after all! The clearest imagery comes from archery — or throwing a ball a long distance. And we know that we all try our best most of the time to hit the mark. But no one is perfect. All have fallen short.