Episode 18

March 25, 2024


B215 Easter Day

B215 Easter Day
By the Well
B215 Easter Day

Mar 25 2024 | 00:30:10


Show Notes

Fran and Kylie talk about 1 Cor 15.1–11 and Mark 16.1–8. For Good Friday episodes, you can listen to A121 (Fran with Frank Rees), and C115 (Robyn, with Dorothy Lee and Andrew McGowan).

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Speaker A: You're listening to by the well, electionary based podcast preachers recorded on the land of the Warunderi people. Hello, everyone. I'm Fran. [00:00:19] Speaker B: And I'm Kylie. [00:00:20] Speaker A: Welcome to our conversation today, everyone. It's Easter day, and Kylie and I will be focusing on one Corinthians 15, one to eleven, and mark 16, one to eight. There's a small chance we'll make a foray into John, but I think we're going to stick with those two main ones first. [00:00:40] Speaker B: But one other bit that we want to just a little give you a taster, a little spoiler for later on in the episode. We're also going to introduce a new opportunity for ways to interact with the podcast later on, so we'll get stuck into that a bit towards the end of the episode as well. [00:00:57] Speaker A: So it's Easter day today in our conversation. We need to hold everything together, folks, when we talk about the gospel and the Christ event, if you're interested in a good Friday, and we're going to be holding that all together in this episode. But if you want to deep dive a bit more into the good Friday, Easter Saturday conversation by the world has two past episodes, and we will put links in the show notes to those where there are some wise scholars and preachers there who were talking about preaching on suffering and good Friday, which we need to, as I say, is part of our conversation today, but not in as much detail. [00:01:39] Speaker B: Yes, we will hold all these things together, or this is our attempt. So we are going to start, then, with the first Corinthians 15 passage. This is the first New Testament account of the resurrection, the earliest document, even though might be later in the New Testament and whatnot, chronologically, when you're looking through your Bible, it's dated earlier Paul's letters than the gospels. So we're going to start here, and I'm going to start off by saying, fran, what captures you about this? What excites you about starting here? [00:02:12] Speaker A: Well, what captures me in the first place is that I think it's less known than we think that this is the first account because of where they're placed in the Bible and that the stories that we know so well and love in the Gospels are sort of a secondary account almost on Paul's here. So what strikes me, too, is he talks about receiving something. So we say, well, this is the first account, but he is really laboring the point that the toing and froing of this tradition and the witnessing here. So I handed on to you as of first importance, what I had received so oral witness, presumably that Christ died for our sins in accordance with scriptures, not proof testing folks, not proof texting. He means the Hebrew Bible and the prophecies and the promises there, and that he, Jesus, was buried and that he was raised on the third day, et cetera. So this is perhaps, I think, a very crude, perhaps first creed almost of all the gospel. So I am struck by the pared back nature of this in comparison with the stories we have. And I mean just to say, too, the stories we have are because time was marching on, and there was concern that this experience of Christ, the ongoing experience of Christ, living Christ around people, was becoming detached from the context. And so stories were written in the light of the resurrection backwards. So the other thing, there's a richness paired back here, but there's a real richness that we miss, perhaps maybe because of familiarity. But, for example, on the third day is a phrase we encounter, obviously, all the time. That's when Jesus rose on the third day is actually an Old Testament image that appears about eleven times in the Hebrew Bible. I think there are particular two occasions are particularly pertinent for us. So the sacrifice of Isaac. So on the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place of sacrifice, and in Hosea six, and that functions to call Israel to repentance and talks about Israel being revived and being risen up. So that I think because we separate through the lecture room, we go sort of Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday. We've given the third day a kind of chronological emphasis. When it's a theological one, it's a figure for capturing an event of salvation of great significance and salvation, not applauding chronological thing. So I think that's. [00:05:12] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, it's great. I like you drawing out to just that kind of nature of the sort of paired back, like, what is the bare bones that Paul feels the need to say here? And of course, one of the things that comes to mind to me, too, when talking, know that I'm handing over something that I've received. This is something that we might say very frequently in our worship services as part of our communion liturgy, if we retell the institution of the sacrament from the version that we encounter in one Corinthians eleven, where he uses the same idea. So we get this idea that there are sort of kernels of tradition. So even though this is the first account of the kind of resurrection story here in the New Testament, just as it is the first account of the institution of the Lord's Supper in chapter eleven, Paul is already directing us back to an earlier oral tradition or something that he has received and passes on in this kind of very. I mean, he's using language here that is really about tradition. So there is some kind of tradition that is existing that he's handing over, and there is something core here to what is being said. So one of the things that I also really pick up on is this idea about standing in this tradition, standing in this proclamation. Paul says in that early verse two, this is verse one, in which this tradition in which you also stand, but then into verse two, through which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaim to you, unless you have come to believe in vain. And this whole chapter in one Corinthians 15, which, in fact, I would kind of encourage people to kind of read on with. It's got some beautiful stuff about just grappling with the nature of resurrection and what is being anticipated as future resurrection. So if Jesus is the first fruits, what's the rest of the resurrection that's being imagined. But he comes back more than once to this idea of something having been in vain. So my question, Fran, for you, putting you on the spot, was it, folks, is sort of like, how do we preach this? How do we even read it, let alone preach it in a contemporary setting where, I don't know, the temptation might be to get all scientific about it, which is super uncomfortable, boring, and impossible. Yes, that's right. Okay, so that's your opinion? Boring and impossible. [00:07:41] Speaker A: Well, to be scientific and rational about it. Well, yes. I mean, the very paired back question is, what problem is it an answer to? What's the resurrection an answer to? Well, one response to that will be the parlor state of humanity in the world, like suffering and unforgiveness. And so. So this is a bit of an answer. Why I'm struck by sitting with Paul in this first part is that he actually doesn't use the concept resurrection. He uses the word appearances. So I feel like the modern mind is hung up on the resurrection, and we should be. I'm not for 1 minute suggesting it isn't the center, but I think Paul here gives us permission or invitation to use other language to enter the reality. So he says that he appeared unto me, he appeared to Kephas, the first denier, and then the twelve, and then to one untimely born, I. E. He appeared to me after I was born too late. But an appearance is something that happens to us. It's not. I saw him. So there's some divine initiative in that. And it gets to the heart of the very real experience of the living Christ that people had after he died, after that. So where am I going with this? I'm going that I think I want people to flex some other language muscles when they're talking about it. And Paul's very first talking about it here, doesn't even use the word now. He does later on in this chapter, of course, he talks about the resurrection of the dead. And that's a separate thing. That is something that was existing in Judaism, that phrase or that understanding only laterally, only in a couple of hundred years before Jesus. It's not something that the first jewish christian people invented. So they're using a category and language to explain this dramatic, cosmic, remarkable, joyful, scary experience of encounter of the risen Christ. They're using that language. I haven't really answered. You have. [00:10:05] Speaker B: It says so. It says, right, that he's raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that he then appears to these groups. So it's not kind of like stuck in the tomb trying to do a time lapse video or whatever to see what actually happened. How were things put back together? Like we get in Ezekiel 37 or something. It's not doing that right. This is not focusing on that. It's focusing on the experience of the people who encounter him. [00:10:32] Speaker A: And even, sorry, but the gospels don't talk about the how either. No, they're the empty tomb, which was addressing the problems where people like skeptics would be like, well, one of you just moved the body. And so we get in Mark, which we'll get to. But the stone was really heavy. I mean, I think that's labored that point because no one could move it, folks. He really did raise. [00:10:58] Speaker B: Super interesting in that. And an invitation. I think you're right to think differently about what we're talking about here. But then again, and again with that, we've got this sense of what it is that they're proclaiming. What is the proclamation? That's a tradition in which they stand and how we're holding it all together. Which makes me wonder, are we ready to move to mark, you think? Some more things to. [00:11:24] Speaker A: No, I think we can. [00:11:25] Speaker B: Okay, so, folks, we're going to move to mark 16, verses one to eight in just a second. [00:11:38] Speaker A: Now for Facebookers for by the world. If you've been attentive, you'll see the news that Kylie's actually preached on this reading this week hit early. [00:11:47] Speaker B: Yeah, part of the australian women preach podcast, a great podcast to yeah. [00:11:51] Speaker A: So we'll put a link to Kylie preaching in the show notes. [00:11:55] Speaker B: Very good. [00:11:56] Speaker A: Did you choose to preach on this one or did they say, here's Mark 16? Off you go, Kylie. [00:12:01] Speaker B: Indeed. They gave me days that I could pick. [00:12:06] Speaker A: So can I ask what drew you to Mark 16 as your choice? [00:12:11] Speaker B: I love this as a text to wonder about at Easter, because it gets a bit of a bad rap, the old Mark 16, because it seems to end before. You've got very much meaty stuff to talk about. Right. So this is one of the dilemmas that people have about it, this whole section. So it tells the story of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, going down to the tomb. They're having a bit of a worry along the way about who's going to roll away the stone, like Fran was just saying. And they get there and sort of miraculously they go anyway. I think that's part of the miracle as well, that they don't stop and say, well, it's obviously impossible, we can't do it. [00:12:49] Speaker A: What are we even thinking? [00:12:50] Speaker B: They go anyway. And there is this divine action that has already moved the. You know, it doesn't say that, but the implication is that that's the only way this big, heavy stone's moved. Which, of course, for people who read on into the other gospels, Matthew's going to take even further to use all this stuff to explain how it can't be that the body's been stolen, but. So they're heading down there, all this stuff. They encounter this young man, he's wearing white. It doesn't say shining white or anything. [00:13:21] Speaker A: It's not transfiguration. [00:13:23] Speaker B: Yeah. It's just a young man who says he's gone ahead to Galilee, as he said he would, to go and tell Peter and the others. And then the text just ends with. And they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid, they flee. So a lot of people wonder about whether this is an adequate story to preach on on Easter day. Maybe I just like the challenge, but I think it is. I think there's something good in it, right? [00:13:54] Speaker A: Oh, absolutely. I would vehemently disagree with those people because there's something about that first time it was of awareness that something unprecedented had happened. It would be staccato like that. People would like. Too much comment would make it seem like it was sort of normal anyway. [00:14:17] Speaker B: Yeah, we should say so. There is a bit of a sort of biblical scholarship backstory to understanding this, because if you open your printed Bible up, you'll find that there are sort of choose your own adventure style. There are a couple of endings here. Something called the shorter ending, which doesn't have verse numberings, and then something called the longer ending, which goes from verses nine to 20, is what that's given. As they're written in slightly different style. The longer ending seems to bring together a whole lot of things known from other gospels and even acts altogether. So it's kind of drawing things in. So some people will say, well, these are early traditions, these things. We find them in earlyish manuscripts. [00:15:05] Speaker A: Both endings are. [00:15:07] Speaker B: Yes, so this is one of the things. So there are things where both of the possible endings are included, and it will even have some of the manuscripts fully. The scribes are aware that they're adding something that's not quite. It's a bit clunky, it doesn't quite fit with the story and put sort. [00:15:22] Speaker A: Of marginal notes, because it's never in our lectionary. [00:15:25] Speaker B: The end bit. Yeah. I don't know if the longer ending. [00:15:28] Speaker A: Of March, I don't think it is. [00:15:29] Speaker B: Maybe in a daily lectionary, but maybe not in the Sunday one, but yes. So some people will say this is not the original ending of Mark, but it's evidence that early people knew that there was something missing and they're trying to fill in the gap. And other people say, actually, it makes sense to end at 16 eight and then explore that together. So the other thing I would just say is a kind of compulsory extra thing, is that these are early endings that are included in our Bible, so they are worth grappling with as scripture anyway. But it is also worth thinking about the story kind of up to Mark 16 eight, and think, what would it be like to end the story here? What's going on? Okay, Fran, what do you reckon it ends 16 eight. The women say nothing to anyone for they're afraid. [00:16:18] Speaker A: Well, I think fear is a very credible reaction to this event. It says they're alarmed further up there. Yes, I think it's an interesting juxtaposition that they didn't say anything to anyone, because in the gospel according to Mark, the women speak a lot, and they are embodiments of faith. The hemorrhaging woman, the sorrow phoenician woman, the poor widow, the woman who anoints Jesus, are all figures of great faith. They are pivotal to the story. You would not have the gospel without them. But here they are so aghast and so terrified, they say nothing. [00:16:56] Speaker B: Yeah. So people have grappled with this about, like, what's the reason for the silence. [00:17:02] Speaker A: Right. [00:17:03] Speaker B: Is it a failure of discipleship, perhaps? If that is the case, it's worth noting that this is the very last moment and the women are the last ones to drop away. [00:17:17] Speaker A: The men have dropped away, so they've hung in there. [00:17:20] Speaker B: They've hung in there to the end, and then they still. The way of thinking about this is that they still don't follow the young man's instruction who tells them to go tell people. Sometimes people wonder about. They're not so keen on that approach. Wonder about, well, is this a holy kind of silence? They've been amazed Fran's not taken by this. You should see the face she's pulling about. That's an option. [00:17:46] Speaker A: That's a bit psychology. [00:17:49] Speaker B: Well, it's a kind of wonderment. They're amazed and they think and then they flee. Is it a holy mean? The other thing that I wonder about, it's not really different from the discipleship kind of question, but the women have just seen what happened to Jesus because of. As a result of what he has been proclaiming, the message of the kingdom that he's brought here. And it would make a whole lot of sense if they looked at that and thought, a bit risky. If this is how they treat a man, this group of women with a radical witness, they're not going to fare any better. So there is a kind of cost side to this. Right. So could it be these elements of the. [00:18:40] Speaker A: Or maybe they're running to Galilee where they've been told to go fearfully. Fearfully? [00:18:45] Speaker B: Yeah, they're running in fear. Well, this is where people ask the question, is fear all? So? Exactly. So they've been told to go to Galilee. So one of the things that it does, right, is you get to this thing where it's like we haven't had an appearance of Jesus, like we get in the other know, we've just got this empty tomb and this young man saying, look this way kind of thing. But what we do have is being pointed back to earlier in the story. So Jesus, just after the last Supper, on the way to being betrayed, has told them that after his, they'll strike the shepherd and the sheep will flee. And he says, after I'm raised, I'll go to Galilee. So the young man here is reminding the reader of things that maybe didn't make sense on the first way through and sending them back into this and in fact, back into the whole story, then all the other things that don't make sense until you've got to the end, back to the beginning. [00:19:45] Speaker A: And that's where I think it's crucial for us to grasp that we read the christian story backwards in that sense, that it's the experience of resurrection that recasts the whole thing. It's a little bit like, and I know these analogies are always cautious, but it's like when you're a much older person, like I am now, like you look back on your life and things make sense, that the way it flowed or the import of events take on a very different hue. And in this way, the resurrection casts right back and throws into very different relief Jesus ministry and his death. [00:20:25] Speaker B: And, in fact, I think this is part of the advantage of what you're saying before Fran, about sort of starting with one Corinthians 15, that in fact, it reminds us that all of this story, the whole narrative, is a post Easter narrative. It's all written from the perspective of people who are living beyond these events that they're recounting here. [00:20:47] Speaker A: Yeah. This is such a remarkable event. This Christ was such a remarkable event that this. Well, we say this about the virgin birth, which is a roadblock for too many people, that it's about this person was the son of God. Must have been so amazing. Must have been born this way, so done backwards, whereas we read it all from the beginning. Yeah. Which gives us a whole lot of roadblocks into thinking and believing and staying with the story. [00:21:17] Speaker B: One of the things I think is interesting, though, the other way in which we get sent back to the start of the story is that if we take this view, that sort of like, that it is a kind of. I don't know, failure is the word I want to go to, really, but that there is a kind of problem that the women don't then just go on and sort of report what happens. It seems actually like a funny thing. Biblical scholar Morna Hooker points this out, that we end on the note if they say nothing, for they're afraid. But in fact, obviously, at some point, someone does tell the story, or we wouldn't have read this. They've just finished reading it. So in this funny way, it reminds us that when all hope is lost, which is also at the heart of Easter Day. [00:22:07] Speaker A: Right. [00:22:07] Speaker B: When all hope is lost, in fact. [00:22:11] Speaker A: God is not abandoning us. [00:22:13] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly. In fact, when it seems like all hope is lost, there is something else. And this sends us back, actually to the very beginning of the story. That's the beginning of the good news. Jesus Christ, son of God, mark one. One. And then we read the story again and we notice the cost of discipleship. We notice what this all means in light of what's going to happen to Jesus at the end and both in the crucifixion and the resurrection. [00:22:41] Speaker A: So the astounding good news on Easter day, and every time we preach the gospel, actually, is that the future promise of God has entered in the middle of history and happened in Christ. The promises of forgiveness and of overcoming death and life, where it appears impossible that is promised by God in the Hebrew scriptures, multifold ways has occurred. But we live pastorally. We know as ministers, preachers that life does not certainly feel like that. So, to coin a cliche, the rubber hits the road in Easter preaching with grappling with that problem or that reality. [00:23:38] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:23:39] Speaker A: I think the hope totally right. How do we speak of the hope. [00:23:44] Speaker B: And how do we speak of it without sentimentalizing it or reducing it? If you look around the room in worship on Easter day, you may well find people, I've been one of them before, unable to sing the lines from thine be the glory. Death has lost its sting. People who've had a recent bereavement know that death is very, very stingy and that will be present to them. And in fact, the Easter story is that there is a stinging, that there is this. On the one hand, yes, the very fabric of the universe has been changed through this resurrection, and it is a resurrection of the crucified one. That's what makes that God entered human limitation, that God entered into heartache with us, is present with us always in heartache, and yet we also proclaim, transformed it in some way, that there is this hope beyond that as well, into fullness of life, whatever that looks like. [00:24:49] Speaker A: For each of us. [00:24:52] Speaker B: The other thing that is my invitation to people, challenge to people, is to find a way to hold that together. People might have been at church even if you've held services on Thursday and Friday and maybe even something on Saturday, there will be people who might have come just the Sundays, palm Sunday, and then Easter day. And we need to proclaim how this makes sense in the midst of the mess of our lives and the mess of our world. So one of the things that I've been reflecting on with this Mark story, that the women say nothing to anyone, for they're very afraid, is that Mary, Mary and Salome are very far from the last women to be in a position where they are so afraid they say nothing. And thinking about the gendered violence in our communities, gendered violence worldwide, that's just one part of the sense of the heartache in our world and people across our congregations will be bringing some kind of heartache. It might be something to do with domestic abuse. It might be something else. And how we think about that, to me, is also part of the challenge. That it's about the women saying nothing for they are afraid is also thinking, how do we put our hope into words in the face of heartache, in a way that is not glib? Not glib, but real. Right. We still have to accept and not step away from the challenge, to put it into words, to just say, oh, well, the scientific technicality of resurrection is that it's mind boggling. And so we're just going to stick with Friday and something much too small. This is a big story, right? But we can't be glib. [00:26:39] Speaker A: No. And look, maybe this is going stepping more into the sort of following Easter Sundays, but the experience of the appearances is bamboozling. They only realize it once it's over. That element of hold of hope is so it's real. But what am I trying to say? It's very hard to grab hold of. I don't know. [00:27:15] Speaker B: I think that's right. But it's an invitation to say, to give it a crack. Even if we're floundering like we are here. [00:27:23] Speaker A: We're floundering. This is where music is like, this is where it's not just about the word in the liturgy. It's the context that the preaching is occurring in will do a lot of this work. And I think sometimes, perhaps in our anxiety or our earnestness, quite rightly, to capture the gospel in our preaching, we sometimes think it's all up to us in that sort of word sense. And it's not. You let the liturgy do it as well. [00:27:56] Speaker B: And remember that as important as Easter Day is, as Fran says, we proclaim it every Sunday, actually Easter. And in fact, we've got six more weeks after this season. [00:28:07] Speaker A: Burn yourself out. [00:28:09] Speaker B: The next Easter week, of course, is always John 20. And you get into this thing where the disciples have been locked in a room, and then the next Sunday, they're back there again. So we're back there again the next time, wondering about grappling with these things. [00:28:24] Speaker A: Yeah, indeed. So, is it time for our little announcement? Do it right. Okay. [00:28:31] Speaker B: What do you want? [00:28:31] Speaker A: Me? Well, what we'd like to invite people to do to participate a bit in the podcast by submitting questions now, not 15 each, because we can't keep up with all that. But if there's a particular question around preaching or scripture or theology or anything to do with that, what did our. [00:28:51] Speaker B: Craft reading ahead in the lectionary, you're like, mate, what is that about? I want to submit a question and have. And we'll try and we're not going to answer. We'll pick one. [00:28:59] Speaker A: Pick one each time, explore it. [00:29:01] Speaker B: But we would love to hear from you about what your questions are. [00:29:05] Speaker A: So at this stage, we're inviting that through the Facebook page. So that means messaging us on Facebook. We will possibly be open to another way of engaging, but at this stage, we're sticking to the Facebook group. So if you're not on our Facebook group, then this is impetus to join. If you want to ask a question, no time. [00:29:23] Speaker B: Like the presentation, no time. But the other thing I'm just going to say is, I think I might have said that we would answer them. We might not be able to answer all the questions, but we will talk about the question and we will think about. Think together and with you about how. [00:29:38] Speaker A: To tackle it or maybe reframe it. A lot of our questions are helped by being reframed because many of them can't be answered, of course. [00:29:46] Speaker B: Really looking forward to engaging with you in this new way. Thanks for joining us to talk about east today. Thanks, Fran. [00:29:52] Speaker A: Thanks, Kylie. [00:29:53] Speaker B: See you next time. [00:29:53] Speaker A: See you. [00:29:57] Speaker B: By the well is brought to you by Pilgrim Theological College and the uniting church in Australia. It's produced by Adrian Jackson. Thanks for listening.

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