Indeed: The Story Never Ends
Tim: Every time I reach the end of Mark’s Gospel a kind of melancholy comes over me. I realize it’s counterintuitive because the last chapter tells the Resurrection story. Death is defeated. Christ has won the victory. Still, it’s like hanging up after a long late-night phone call with an old friend. The conversation is amazing, but you’re sad it’s over.
Shea: Is it over? Mark closes with one of the greatest cliffhangers of all time. No one knows where Jesus is. Unlike the other Gospels, he doesn’t have a post-crucifixion cameo in Mark. No garden conversation, no appearance to the disciples, no breakfast on the seashore. The writer simply says the women are so traumatized and carried away they can’t speak. then the story ends with a conjunction that approximates English connectors like “for” or “indeed.”
Tim: But it doesn’t connect to anything! The earliest manuscripts of Mark end abruptly in verse eight: “They were afraid indeed…” The rest of the closing chapter gets added much later. In fact, most Bibles contain two attempts to end the Gospel in a more conclusive way. There’s a short ending and a longer ending. Why is that?
Shea: Folks couldn’t be satisfied with the Jesus story closing with a dot-dot-dot. Yet what if that’s the point? What if we’re supposed to look at the dot-dot-dot and realize the story never ends? The women go to the grave to preserve their rabbi’s body. But there’s no body to be found, because Jesus has already moved on. His corpse can’t be preserved because he’s alive and his work is never-ending. It doesn’t need preservation! The Jesus story becomes their story. And now it’s our story. Indeed…
Tim: The young man in the empty tomb tells Mary Magdalene and the others that Jesus will meet the disciples in Galilee, which is where the whole thing began.
Shea: Indeed. Everything comes full circle. In Mark, the right response to the Resurrection is “Get back to work.” This time it won’t be Jesus in the lead role. It will be his apostles, his delegates, us. In the end—which is not an ending at all—this story is about the calling placed on us to usher God’s kingdom into the world. How does it begin? Jesus declares, “The reign of God is near. Turn around and trust this good news.” And where does he proclaim this gospel? Galilee.
Tim: It’s a perfect circle. The story never ends!
Shea: It never ends. What happens next is always up to us.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
NEW SERIES BEGINS IN SEPTEMBER
What kinds of spiritual practices and habits work best for us? How do we keep our faith life fresh? What do we do when things we’ve always done feel like they’re not working? How do we stay plugged in to God’s work in us and our community? This fall we’ll look at spiritual disciplines as our means of survival in an increasingly chaotic world.
Join us every Thursday from September 6 through October 11, as we examine Spiritual Disciplines for Undisciplined Times.
September 6 – All hands on deck! Chicago Theological Seminary will be bringing a camera crew to Gather to shoot footage for a short video feature about Tim and Shea and the new church. We need everyone to be present and accounted for!
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.