Another Ending

In the Gospel of Mark, there are two endings to the gospel story. In the first ending, they are perplexed and afraid. They run away from what they see at the tomb full of this fear. In the second ending, written later by those that were not satisfied by this ending, there is more resolution. Things turn out OK in the end. Or seem to. I’ll admit that I actually prefer the first ending. It fits with this sense that I have that our lives don’t often get a second ending. Things don’t always turn out OK in the end. No matter how much we might like things to turn out just fine, I don’t think it happens very often.

It dawns on me that this is why I am a Christian. I want another ending. I really, really, really want another ending. My whole life is about seeking another ending — but I still don’t have one. I’m trying really hard to figure it out — but really — it’s not mine to write. I can edit and edit all I want. And I do. But it’s not just my ending. It’s one that I’m writing with God. This fact gives me great pause. It’s where I have to surrender to mystery because I have no idea what that means. I don’t know how to write the ending with God but I believe it. It’s what I’m trying to do.
William Blake River of Life (1805)
Before I offered the pastoral prayer this past Sunday, this is what caught in my throat. It was the second week in a row where I told really awful stories. The previous week it was personal. I told my story. This past Sunday I told the story of this little girl in Indiana. To me, these are stories that need another ending. That’s essentially what I said before I started to pray. I believe that the Christian community is about making space for those stories that need another ending. Together, we tell these awful stories so that we can try to glean some other ending than the tragedy we already feel. This morning, I wrote a whole prayer about this. I need another ending — but maybe it’s not as grand as that second ending in the Gospel of Mark. Maybe it doesn’t feel all better. Maybe it’s not all radiant and bright. Maybe it just allows me to feel how perplexed and afraid I am. Maybe that is resurrection. It’s nothing I would have ever described resurrection to be before — but what if it is? What if resurrection isn’t this huge shift but is something that just lets you sit a little better with the feelings you already have? Isn’t that the space we try to offer in the church? We give a hug. We make a casserole. We sit when others might get up and walk away. We want to be there with you in that ending that overwhelms you. I believe this is what God does. God doesn’t turn away. God sits. God stays. God helps us tell the end of the story — and maybe eventually give it another ending. But, I don’t think God worries about that second ending too much. I think God is more concerned that we tell the truth about how hurt or broken or beaten up we are. God wants to hear that so that God can assure us that she’s with us in that too.
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