Thursday, April 9, 2020

Sermon Sketches: Mark 16:1-8 - Exchanging Fear for Trust

I. Where are we going?
Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!

That is the message of Easter. This is what we proclaim and sing and read and pray today.

But, what does this really mean for us? As we look at the Scripture this morning, let us open our hearts and minds to what God has for us.
 II. Scripture – Mark 16:1-8
 III. Connections—Afraid?
We have many places we can go in this rather brief, abrupt passage. We can certainly talk about the fact that the women are the first to come to the tomb…and, in turn, become the very proclaimers of the Good News. We can talk about the empty tomb—Christ has risen! We can ask some questions about why this Gospel ends so abruptly or discuss who (or what) the ‘young man’ is in the tomb.
I’m not going there. I’m going with the final verse:
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (NIV)
Because they were afraid. So, the question is, afraid of what? What left these women ‘trembling,’ ‘bewildered,’ and ‘afraid? To be clear, the Scripture does not say what has done this to the women, so we are left to speculate, imagine.
Perhaps they were unsettled by the sight of this young man, presumably not known to them. Luke tells this is an angel (two of them in Luke’s telling of the story.) Was there something about the young fellow that would have frightened them?
Perhaps the possibility that Jesus might actually be alive…but as what? A man or a ghost? Or…?
Perhaps they are afraid that no one will believe their story. I mean, who would? A man back to life and on his way to Galilee?
Perhaps something as simple and profound as not finding what they expected has unsettled them. They expected to do this deed of preparing the body and then going home. Now, something has shattered their plans, and they don’t know what to do with the unexpected.

IV. Not Too Far From Home…
Fear is not foreign to us. 
We live in a time of fear--fear of the virus, economic uncertainties, illnesses (self and others)...and that life-long fear too many carry--fear of rejection.

We have seen this lived out the soaring gun sales in our nation--over 2 million guns bought in the month of March a country where we already owned over 389 million guns.

And, we even have fear when we experience something of the risen Lord. Some who for the first time experience the love or grace or forgiveness or healing of Jesus feel fear at the same time.
Some are afraid to say anything about their Christian experience because, then, ‘what if I stumble?’ No one wants to look the fool.
Some are afraid that their experience with God may not have been ‘real’—people second-guess themselves and their experiences.
Some are afraid of seeming ‘old-school’ or ‘un-cool’ in this hi-tech, scientific age. People fear looking ‘old fashioned’ or unscientific.
Some are afraid to admit that they can’t figure out life, afraid to admit they need ‘religion.’ People fear seeming weak.
Besides these, we face a thousand other things that leave us 'trembling,' 'bewildered,' and 'afraid.' We face job loss, pandemics, relationship problems, decisions, family decisions, and more. We understand that these women and we ourselves can be afraid.
Mark ends his Gospel with this line about the women begin afraid and saying nothing, but we know that the story doesn’t end there. We know it doesn’t end because Matthew, Luke, and John provide more details to the story. We know the story doesn’t end there because contemporary historians and writers talk about this newly born Christian movement also. That means the ‘fear’ did not have the final word in these women’s lives.

V. And What Is Fear, Anyway?
Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell us that we have primary and secondary emotions. While there is some disagreement as to what these emotions are or how they are named, in the end, we have two emotions that tend lie underneath all others. And one of those is ‘fear.’ Out of fear grow anger, hatred, worry, jealousy, and others. (And, if it makes you angry or worried that I’m saying this, you must be afraid of something! 😊 )
The opposite of fear is not bravery (that’s a secondary emotion). The opposite is ‘trust.’ Out of trust grow love, confidence, bravery, hope, and others.
So, somewhere between verse 8 of Mark 16 and later that day, these women were able to move from fear to trust. Somewhere, somehow, for some reason, they moved from the silence of fear to the proclamation of trust.
They determined to trust the young man. They decided to trust Jesus’ being alive. They trusted that someone would believe their story. They found the strength to trust that their upside-down world was going to be okay.
And, when they trusted and told their story, history forever changed. History literally and measurably changed.

This change--this move from fear to trust--happened not only as a part of the resurrection story; it happened because of the resurrection story. And this change can happen in our lives as well. This change from fear to trust can be our today...and every day.

VI. What Now?
How different would your story be if you moved from fear and all it entails--worry, jealousy, anger, hatred--to trust and all it brings--hope, love, confidence, bravery? How would your life be different?

While these are emotions, they are also habits--it may not be easy to change, but we can change. We can make the choice to be people of fear...or people of trust. We can make that choice because ... Christ is Risen!

Part of the meaning of Easter is the transforming power of trust--
     trust in a God who loves us
     trust in the Scriptures that tell us the Story
     trust in our risen Lord
Jesus is risen to bring us life. Will you exchange fear for trust? It will change your story...and it might even change history.


Christ is Risen!

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