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This is the end of the Gospel of Mark. It’s not what we expect. Where is Jesus? The oldest manuscripts of this Gospel end here. If you look at a bible, *you’ll find 12 more verses, always in brackets, complete with footnotes. It seems that there were some uncomfortable with this ending because those 12 more verses make the end of Mark look more like the other gospels. But that doesn’t seem to be what our storyteller wanted.

Dr Lamar Williamson asked and answered: “When is an ending not the end? When a dead man rises from the tomb—and when a Gospel ends in the middle of a sentence.”

Perhaps our Gospel writer didn’t write an ending.

Our Gospel writer, whom we call Mark, is a storyteller. If we sat down and read aloud the Gospel of Mark in one sitting it would take about an hour—a reasonable amount of time to sit and listen to a story. Imagine Mark in front of a small crowd, maybe around a table, maybe around a fire, and each listener waiting with bated breath for what was to come next in the story.

A good storyteller invites the listener or the reader into the story. Suddenly the reader, the audience, becomes part of the experience, one of the characters in the story. A good storyteller makes it feel like you were there with the characters as they walk the road to Mordor or solving crime with Miss Marple.

It was quite a journey our gospel writer has taken us on. We have traveled with Jesus and the disciples From Galilee to Jerusalem.

We were there when the story started, when Jesus’ ministry began, when he met John in the river and was baptized there. We heard the voice of God calling Jesus his beloved Son, a spoiler into what was to come that the disciples never heard.

We were there when the disciples were invited to leave the world they had known behind and follow Jesus into the new and unknown world.

We were there when the man who had to be carried in by his friends was told he was whole and had a place in the community regardless and we were there when he got up and walked.

As we walked down the road with Jesus we heard him tell stories, heal blind men, give a bleeding woman back her community, and dead girl back her life.

We walked up the mountain with Peter, James, and John–saw Jesus glowing, heard again Jesus called God’s beloved son.

We have journeyed from Jerico into Jerusalem, through a wild week that started with a parade and moved into teachings and conversations and questions. *Jesus and his community gathered around tables every evening and on one specific evening to remember and to celebrate the Passover. He knew it was almost over.

We went with Jesus and the disciples to the garden, where they promised they would stay awake, and they would stay with him. We watched as they struggled with their best of intentions and their full humanity as they fell asleep and then fled, leaving Jesus alone at his betrayal by a friend, arrest, and trial.

We journeyed with the newly introduced women to Golgotha and watched Jesus die. We waited through the sabbath, woke early with them, walked to the grave, and were caught up in the surprise moment when they saw that the really big rock had been moved and the man says Jesus has been raised, he’s waiting for them in Galilee.

We saw their fear and amazement, we get it. That must have been so overwhelming and sometimes when I’m overwhelmed I just shut down, too. I run and hide for all the things I’m supposed to be doing.

At the end of the telling of the story, at the end of the Gospel, the disciples have abandoned Jesus,  Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, even the women have run off in fear. At the end of the story, the only one left is you and me.

Christ has been risen and now comes the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure part of the story. The young man dressed in white has turned his eyes to you, “Christ has been raised and is waiting for you in Galilee. Christ has been raised and go tell everyone especially even the one who is carrying shame and hurt and pain and disappointment. Christ has been raised and is waiting for you so go.”

Will you run in fear?

Will you stay put in amazement?

Will you go back to your old life from years ago?

Will you go to the other disciples, even Peter, to tell them?

Will you go to Galilee?

We come to the end of the gospel and this is it. We remain at an empty grave with a you man dressed in white and a Storyteller looking you in the eye telling you asking you if you’re going to go and tell the story.

You beloved story listener, questioner, are now the caretaker of the story. You hold the good news of the life and the love of Jesus, the execution that could not stick and the resurrection of Jesus from Nazareth went to Galilee who is the Messiah. Jesus has been raised and have revealed that the forces of death, violence, and oppression have no power in the face of the love of God. That is the Good News of this day and you are the caretaker of this story.

You are the good news of life renewed, of relationships restored, of abundant love, of extravagant hospitality, of boundless generosity, of hope for the hopeless. You are the good news of healing, of communities restored, of life given back when it seemed like there was only death.

You are the caretakers of this gospel this good news whether it is because it was passed down from generation to generation, from the women who finally calmed down enough to tell the story, and go to Galilee, and carry on. Or because we have heard this story over weeks over years or for the first time today. Or because you have lived resurrection, new life, second chances, hope in the midst of hopelessness, comfort in shame and pain, joy in the midst of grief, and love always.

But maybe you’re not sure what to do. That brings us back to the second half of our opening quote. …“and when a Gospel ends in the middle of a sentence.”

Biblical Greek is hard. I leave it to smarter people. But the order of the last sentence in Biblical Greek is: Had seized for them trembling and amazement and To None nothing they spoke they were afraid for

That last word could be translated as because or however.

“When is an ending not the end? When a dead man rises from the tomb—and when a Gospel ends in the middle of a sentence.” Williamson, L.

They were afraid, however, go to Galilee.

Go back to Galilee… isn’t that where this whole thing started?

“they were afraid for”

This is “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the son of God and in those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”

Go back to the beginning, read it, hear it again, learn something new.

And when you read through it and you get to the end again and you find yourself here and face to face with the young man asking you to go and to tell of the good news

Go and live the life Jesus taught: to build the kingdom of God to build the Beloved Community. To make the outcast family, to offer comfort to those full of shame, to bring whatever healing to the hurt and the broken, to counter the systems of power that wield violence and death–to live a different way, to love.

Live the good news, live resurrection, live a life that scares the powers of this world. Welcome the outcast, care for the vulnerable, offer new life in healing and forgiveness, build community, love, love everyone, love in all cases, love in the face evil, love in darkness, love. Live the Good News. Go, tell.