Our service this evening is the common prayer of the members of:
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church:
1060 Salem Avenue, Dayton OH 45406-5130
Deacon: the Rev. Connie McCarroll
St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church:
1501 North Broad Street, Fairborn OH 45324-5575
Priest in Charge: the Rev. Greg Sammons
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
456 Woodman Drive, Dayton OH 45431-2099
Rector: the Rev. Michael Kreutzer
Assisting Priest: the Rev. R. James Larsen
Deacon: the Rev. George Snyder
The Story of Creation
Voice 1 of God In the beginning, when I created the heavens and the earth, the earth was without life. Darkness covered the face of the deep, and my spirit swept over raging waters. Then I commanded, “Let there be light!” And I saw that the light was good. I separated the light from the darkness. The light would be called Day, and the darkness Night.
Narrator And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Voice 2 of God “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters!” I commanded. “Let it separate the waters above from the waters below.”
Narrator God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters above. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Voice 3 of God Then I said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear!” And it was so. I called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together I called Oceans. I commanded the earth to bring forth vegetation: plants, grains, and fruit trees of every kind. I looked at what I had done, and it was good.
Narrator And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
Voice 4 of God “Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will show the seasons and days and years. Let them shine down on the earth.”
Narrator And it was so. God made the two great lights — the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night — and the stars. God set them in the sky to give light to the earth.
Voice 4 of God “They shall rule over the day and over the night, and separate the light from the darkness.”
Narrator And it was so. God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Voice 5 of God I ordered the oceans to bring forth a multitude of living creatures, and I let birds fly above the earth across the sky. I created the great sea monsters and fish of every kind, and every kind of bird. And it was good. I blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the seas, and let birds cover the earth.”
Narrator And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
Voice 6 of God “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind,” I proclaimed “Tame animals, reptiles, and wild animals shall roam the earth!”
Narrator And God created every type of animal, and every living creature that creeps on the ground. And God saw that it was good.
Voice 6 of God Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. They will have power over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over all the animals and reptiles of the earth.
Narrator So humans were created in the image of God, both men and women. And God blessed them.
Voice 6 of God Be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth. Take care of the fish in the seas, the birds in the air, and all living things that move upon the earth. I have given you every plant that yields grain, and every fruit tree for food. And to the beasts of the earth, the birds of the air, and to every other living creature, I have given green plants for food.
Narrator And so it was. God saw everything that was made, and was very pleased. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Thus the whole universe was completed. And on the seventh day, God was finished working and rested. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day God rested from all the work that had been done in creation. And that is how the world was created.
at the Red Sea
Narrator Moses led the Israelite people out of slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, was angry and tried to recapture them. As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptian army quickly advancing on them. In great fear they cried out to the Lord for help, and blamed Moses for their plight.
Israelite 1 Wasn’t there enough room in Egypt for our graves? Is that why you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?
Israelite 2 What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt?
Israelite 1 Didn’t we tell you in Egypt to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians?
Israelite 2 We would be better off serving the Egyptians than dying in the wilderness!
Moses Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and see how the Lord delivers us today. We will never see the Egyptians again. The Lord will save us. Keep still and watch!
Voice of God Moses, why do you cry out to me? Raise your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea. The water will divide in half and the Israelites will be able to walk through on dry ground. Then I will make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them into the sea. I will show my power over Pharaoh and his entire army. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.
Narrator The angel of God, who had been leading the Israelites, went behind them. A cloud, which had also been in front, moved between the Israelites and the army of Egypt.
And so the cloud lit up the night for the Israelites, but kept the Egyptians in darkness. And the one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. All night, the Lord drove back the sea by a strong east wind. The waters were divided and turned the sea into dry land.
The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The water formed a wall for them on their right and on their left. All of Pharaoh’s soldiers, chariots, and horses went into the sea after them.
At dawn, God looked down upon the Egyptian army from a fiery cloud, and threw the Egyptians into a panic. Their chariot wheels were clogged with mud, and they could hardly turn.
Egyptian Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them and against us.
Voice of God Moses, stretch your hand over the sea, so that the water may come and drown the Egyptians and their chariots.
Narrator So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. The Egyptians tried to flee, but the waters covered the soldiers, chariots, and horses.
The entire army of Pharaoh had followed the Israelites into the sea, and not one of them lived. But the Israelites had walked through the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians. Israel saw the great work that the Lord had done. The people stood in awe and believed in the Lord and Moses, God’s servant.
Then the prophet Miriam took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went with her and danced with tambourines.
Miriam Sing to the Lord who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver have been thrown into the sea!
All Sing to the Lord, who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver have been thrown into the sea!
Old Testament: Zephaniah (3:14-20)
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the LORD.
The Epistle: Romans (6:3-11)
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel: John (12:20-33)
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. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 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. 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.” 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.
by the Rev. Michael Kreutzer
Excuse me just a minute. George, what happened to the rest of the reading? You were supposed to go all the way to the end of Mark’s version of the gospel. It can’t just end where you did: with the women saying nothing about the resurrection to anyone “because they were afraid” – can it? What kind of ending it that to the Easter story?
Actually, whether we like it or not, what George read – Mark, chapter 16, verses 1-8 – is the end of Mark’s gospel. But it leaves us thinking that there must be more.
We’re certainly not the first Christians to want to hear more. As early as the mid- to late-second century, people began to write other endings and to append them to Mark’s version. Many editions of the bible include two or three of those later endings, at least in the footnotes. But the version that we heard, even with its abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion, is accepted by scholars to be the authentic, most ancient version.
Still, it seems so unfinished, so unsatisfying. So what could Mark possibly be trying to do here?
If you look at the gospel according to Mark as a whole, you can easily divide it into two, parallel parts. Part one begins with Jesus’ baptism at which God declares to him “You are my Son, the Beloved”; part two, with the transfiguration scene in which God tells Peter, James, and John “This is my Son, the Beloved.” They are almost the same words, except that the first declaration is addressed to Jesus alone; and the second, to his followers. Whereas part one of Mark’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ identity, on who he is, part two emphasizes also the identity of his followers, who they are called to be because of him.
The parallel between the two sections continues. And it reaches its culmination when Jesus’ identity is revealed. At the end of the first part, that takes place at Caesarea Philippi, when Peter declares (8:29), “You are the Messiah”; and Jesus commands his disciples not to tell anyone, but to remain silent. In the second part, the decisive revelation takes place immediately after Jesus’ death, when a Roman centurion declares, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” Only this time, after Jesus has been raised, the young man at the tomb commands the women not to remain silent, but to go and proclaim. There once was a time for silence, but now is the time for proclamation.
But it is there that the parallel ends, at least in the gospel as it is written. The first part actually continues for a few more verses, as it concludes, first, with the call of Jesus to his disciples to take up their cross and follow where he has led the way and, second, with a promise of the coming of the kingdom of God. But because Mark’s gospel ends with the women at the tomb failing to proclaim the resurrection, we don’t find those last two elements – taking up the cross and following Jesus, and the coming of the kingdom – we don’t find them in the second part, the part about the disciples. But I suggest that both of them are still an essential part of Mark’s gospel.
Maybe we don’t find that story — the story of how Jesus’ disciples took up their crosses and followed him into the kingdom of God – maybe we don’t find it because in our lives you and I have not yet written that final chapter of the gospel. Maybe what Mark is trying to tell us by ending his gospel so abruptly is that the gospel story has not yet ended, and that it will not end until we take up our crosses and follow where Jesus has led the way. It is then and only then that the gospel will be complete and that the kingdom of God will come in all its fullness. It is up to us to write the end of the story: to write it in the way that we live our lives.
In just a few minutes, in the next part of this central celebration of the entire church year, we will be renewing our baptismal promises. And, in those promises, we vow to God and to one another that we will pick up the story of Mark’s gospel where it now ends. We vow to God and to one another that we will follow where Jesus has led the way. We vow to God and to one another that we will write the final chapter of Mark’s gospel, writing it in the living of our lives.
And in doing so, we will put aside our fears and will proclaim to all the world that God has raised Jesus from the dead and that God will raise us up with him. And it is then that the world will at last be filled with the life and the love and the fullness of the glory of God. And it is then and only then that the story of the gospel will at last be complete.