When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. 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." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:1-8(9-20)
The first few days after Labor Day, always seem like the true beginning of a new year. Somehow, January 1st doesn't hold a candle to the first few days of Fall. School begins again, church school and activities start up anew, and it's a whole new year for so many programs and places. We start over, begin again, come indoors and get serious, all over again. It can be a great challenge to face new life, to start over, to begin again and yet it can also be refreshing, letting newness crowd out our jaded selves.
The women first find the empty tomb and soon the disciples and followers learn the news. The greet the news with a healthy mixture of joy and fear. In Mark's Gospel the appearances were simple, quick and very direct. " Go into all the world." It was a new life for them, scary because they were on their own, exciting because they saw and touched the promise of new life, and eternal life. God promises to renew us over and over again, bringing us back from our worst traumas and our saddest, jaded and despondent places, to new life and new direction.
Today, as we begin a new year, I ask God to give me the strength to go where I am sent with great joy. May the worries of the past be left behind, and may we make space for new life and new opportunities in the days ahead.