This blog series for Easter 2022 is taken directly from the sermon I preached at St Pauls Waiheke (New Zealand) on Easter Day this year. It is focused on the gospel of Mark, and the unconventional way Mark presents the good news of resurrection to his people in mid-century Rome.
Like any sermon, it draws together thoughts and concepts from the miscellany of writers and preachers that I encountered during my preparation. The positive response of those who were there gives me the courage to think my integration of these ideas may be useful to others. I therefore need to acknowledge that here you will find the echoes of, and possibly even whole sentences from, works by N T Wright (Mark for Everyone), Frederick Buechner (Peculiar Treasures) and David Rhoads et al (Mark as Story). I apologise for the lack of detailed acknowledgement; this was after all a sermon used for Christian worship and not in pursuit of academic rigour.
An Easter Fugue
Many years ago – possibly fifty or more – I was at a funeral in St David’s Presbyterian Church in central Auckland. The person who had died was a returned soldier, and the service appropriately honoured his service. During a time of quiet meditation, the organist played a voluntary I had never heard before; he had composed it himself. The main tune was the hymn, The day Thou gavest Lord has ended, referring to the end of the person’s life on earth. But in between the lines of the hymn, which most would have recognised, came the haunting sound of the morning bugle call “Reveille” played here on Anzac (Memorial) Day. It was breath-taking – in between the sad notes of grief and goodbye in the hymn, came the haunting reminder that death is not the end, and that this soldier of Christ was to wake in a new morning.