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Throughout Lent, I’ve been contemplating the power of stories – biblical stories, ancient stories, personal stories, fictional stories, mythical stories, new stories, my story, written stories, oral stories, poetic stories, musical stories, all kinds of stories. There’s power in words. Sometimes we forget the power words have. Sometimes we’re too busy or too burdened to listen well to the stories all around us – new and old, well-worn and just being written. Now, as Easter is close enough to touch, I wonder how well we are paying attention to this story, this telling of the Word that continues to speak to the fear-filled and doubt-filled followers of today.

Back in the beginning of Lent we revisited the covenant God made with Noah, a covenant not to destroy the world by flood ever again. Then the covenant God made with Abraham, a covenant that would bring forth great nations should Abraham choose to walk blamelessly before God. From Abraham we went to Moses and the covenant made at the foot of Mt. Sinai, a covenant that would forever claim the people of God as they struggled to live into God’s holy ways. From there we heard the strength of God’s covenant as the people struggled with deadly serpents in the wilderness; God has the power to save lives. From there we heard the words of Jeremiah, promising that this covenant of Love would be written on the hearts of all God’s people. These stories led us to Jerusalem and the always unfolding and expanding covenant of God’s love written in human form. Did we travel all this way grasping at echoes or living in the powerful presence of the One Who Loves?

After betrayal, the body broken, and blood poured out, we contemplate an empty tomb. There are many ways to tell this story. There’s John’s way where Mary encounters the risen Christ and is charged with telling Peter the story; from one woman’s experience the Word of Resurrection spreads far and wide. It reaches through centuries and countless lives to touch us, awaken us to the power of the Risen Christ to bring new life where we see only death.

Alternately, there’s Mark’s way of telling the story where three women bolt out of the empty tomb in amazed terror. They were told to tell Peter and the other disciples that Jesus had risen, but Mark tells us that they told no one. The telling becomes our job. Can we experience the terror and amazement of those women? We can certainly relate to their reluctance to speak about the empty tomb and what Resurrection might mean. Are we willing to continue to tell the story whose ending remains unwritten? Do our lives speak the truth of what happened so long ago in that early morning on the first day of the week?

There’s power in these sacred stories, power that is meant to live on and expand and bring new life in us, and through us. When we take a moment to breathe deeply of the winds blowing through the empty tomb and feel the light of the early morning sun on our faces, does the Covenant spoken through the stories of old stir within us? As we contemplate the words we will use to describe the terror, the amazement, the joy, the wonder, the mystery that is Resurrection, what evidence of the Word Spoken into Flesh do we encounter?

Peter eventually proclaimed that God shows no partiality in nations or people. While we contemplate once more the power in the Easter story, will our words hold that same impartiality? Do we share the belief that God’s claim of Love is on all people, equally? What can this old story of triumph over death say to countries whose leaders sound too much like Herod and Pilot? What can this New Covenant of brokenness-made-whole say to those who fail to recognize that those in who have power in this world don’t particularly care about those without power? What can the terrifying encounter with the Risen Christ who knows us by name say to the ones who remain marginalized and victimized today? What does the Breath of God whisper in the ears of those who claim to be Christ’s body today?

Yes, these stories have power. They are our stories, too. Our lives are meant to be a continuation of this ancient story of Liberation, of Life, of Love. How will you tell this familiar story in a way that invites everyone to continue it’s telling, whether in terror or amazement or joy or any other emotion that stirs in response? Please share your thoughts and stories that we may come together to celebrate the Good News of the Resurrection. Christ is risen!

Photo: CC0 image by Reinhardi


Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.


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6 thoughts on “RCL: The On-Going Story Continues

  1. Twice before I have preached Mark 16 as “the end of the beginning”—noting that the first verse of Mark’s gospel says “the beginning of the good news…” and so perhaps the entirety of the 16 chapters is the beginning, and what happens afterward is the rest of the story, but that isn’t what Mark is telling, so it makes sense that the Beginning ends with “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”…because that’s the perfect catalyst for another chapter to build on.

    I haven’t decided yet what direction I’m going, but I’ve chosen the 1 Corinthians 1 foolishness/wisdom passage as the pairing (the one that was in the lectionary a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t use it!)…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your words, Rachael. I especially love: Are we willing to continue to tell the story whose ending remains unwritten? This was the inspiration I needed!

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