Mark 16:1-8 (NRSV)
1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
When I was a student at Greensboro College, I would run late in the evening. One night I was finishing my two-mile loop, approaching the end of my run. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a Doberman suddenly appeared in my path. I stopped dead in my tracks. Every fiber of my being wanted to flee but I knew running away was the worst thing I could do. I couldn't outrun the dog. I stood very still. I tried to remain calm and talked to the dog in a gentle and soothing voice.
So, there I was, in the middle of a street, in the city of Greensboro talking to a dog that probably wanted me for a midnight snack! It seemed like an eternity before the dog finally walked away. Then I ran! If only my high school cross-country coach could have seen me. He would have been proud.
We run for exercise and sometimes for pleasure. On occasion, we run because we are scared. We run because our lower (Reptilian brain) brain tells us that we must fight or flee. Fleeing works best for me.
The Gospel of Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome " . . . fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them . . . they were afraid." Faced with angels and an empty tomb, the women responded as most of us would.
In C.S. Lewis', The Silver Chair, Jill Pole is magically whisked away from her boarding school to the land of Narnia. Once in the strange land, she realizes she is thirsty. Hearing a stream, she makes her way to a stream. As she begins to approach the water she suddenly notices a huge lion blocking her path.
The Lion is lying down with its head raised and its two forepaws out front. The lion is looking at her. She thinks to herself, "If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment and if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth." Jill is frozen in her tracks (much as I was with the Doberman). She can't take her eyes off the lion. She stands for what seems like hours. Her thirst eventually becomes so enormous that she thinks she wouldn't mind being eaten by a lion if she could get a mouthful of water first.
"If you are thirsty, you may drink," Jill is not sure if the Lion is speaking or if the voice is coming from somewhere else.
"Are you thirsty?" asks the lion.
"I'm dying of thirst," Jill responds.
"May I . . . could I . . . would you mind going away . . . ? Will you promise not to . . . do anything to me, if I do come?" Jill asks.
I make no promise," says the lion.
"Do you eat girls?" she asks as she slowly steps forward.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," replies the lion.
"I daren't come and drink," says Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," the lion replies.
"Oh dear!" Jill says, stepping closer.
"I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," the lion tells her.
It never occurs to Jill to disbelieve the lion. Suddenly, her mind is made up. She moves forward to the stream, kneels down, and scoops up water in her hand. It is the coolest most refreshing water she has ever tasted.
Jill's fear of the lion is real. The lion is capable of eating her. She fears the lion's power and majesty. The lion refuses to move so instead of running away, Jill approaches in faith, drinks, and is satisfied.
When we approach the unknown--a terminal illness, the loss of a job, a new job, separation or divorce, family problems, trouble with our children, a new relationship--our minds and bodies often want to run away. The Bible reminds us to move forward. Moving forward with God is faith. We don't always know where God might lead and we sometimes fear that we might be consumed by God's leading. But, by faith we go. Think about it.
I hope to see you at one of our Holy Week services and especially on Easter Sunday. May you have a blessed Holy week.