Surprises and Barbie Bicycles
Really, the first thing you should know about me is that I really love surprises. Surprises are my favorite.
When I was in the third grade, all I wanted in life was a hot pink Barbie bicycle. And after months and months of dropping not-so-subtle hints in my parents' direction, they caved. I had just gotten home from dance class and my dad told me there was something in the backyard waiting for me. I ran outside and there it was, the hot pink Barbie bicycle in all its glory.
And so of course I did what any other exceedingly grateful third grade girl would do: I began to weep openly and ran to hid underneath our dining room table. I was so overwhelmed with joy that my poor third grade self legitimately didn't know how to handle it and thus I cried.
So yeah... surprises are my thing.
To be honest, that's probably the reason why the Gospel of Mark has always been my favorite. I mean ,aside from the fact that it's easily the shortest Gospel (which is very helpful for my seemingly nonexistent attention span), the Gospel of Mark also has a rich history filled with the joy of surprises. In fact, there's evidence that suggests that in the days of the early Church, as church communities prepared new Christians to be baptized into the faith, any of the churches that were teaching from the Gospel of Mark would only teach up until the second to last chapter of the Gospel. In other words, throughout their preparation and instruction, nobody told the new Christians that Christ ended up rising from the dead; they just stopped teaching right after the crucifixion. As far as the newly converted Christians were concerned, Jesus was dead.
Then, on Easter Sunday, right before they were baptized, those instructing the new members of the faith would surprise them with the final chapter of Mark's Gospel: "The Resurrection of Jesus." Best. Surprise. Ever.
Sometimes I think about that: what it must have been like to learn about the Crucifixion without knowing that the Resurrection was coming after; to know the suffering and pain but not the glory. Then, all of the sudden, to be presented with the reality that the Lord that you had come to know and love was in fact alive, that he had risen, that the Savior not only conquered in life, but also in death. It's hard for me to even imagine the amount of joy that the early Christians must have experienced at the realization that God's goodness and power is so much greater than they ever could have anticipated.
It's often so hard for me to allow the full impact of what we're celebrating during the Easter season to really sink in. And so my invitation for you (and for myself as well) is to go back and reread Mark 16 over the next couple of weeks and to try and imagine what it would be like if you had never heard of the Resurrection before. What would it be like for you if up until that moment, you thought Christ's death was his final great act? What would you be thinking or feeling?
My prayer is that by uniting ourselves to this awesome tradition of the Early Christians, we might be able to allow the full joy of Christ's Resurrection to permeate our hearts and our lives throughout this Easter season!
Dear Jesus, thank you for surprises, Barbie bicycles, your death and Resurrection, and the wonderfully sneaky traditions of the Early Christians. Amen.
- Lauren Wright | Frassati Fest 2017 Keynote Speaker