Keeping your head down
Short sermon for Easter, 2015 at St James, Colwall
When you were young, did you ever play that game where Mum or Dad or someone puts their hands in front of your eyes and says where’s Sally gone, where’s Jimmy gone?
Then they take their hands away and say there she is, there he is!! And you burst out giggling and they do it again and again and again and it’s amazing how long you can keep on disappearing then up you pop, loving it every time.
Anybody like to help me demonstrate it now?
Nah, it’s too embarrassing isn’t it? Better to keep our heads down than play such a silly game in public. And anyway we’re all a bit too grown up aren’t we?
Speaking of grown-ups here’s a story from a time only those of us who are really old grown-ups will remember. It’s from Russia from a time when it was called the Soviet Union and had been a really scary place to live. Many many people had been purged, or killed by the state under its leader Josef Stalin. But Stalin had died and it had a new leader, Nikita Khrushchev, who was one day addressing a gathering of party officials. After his talk a voice called out from the back, “What were you doing when Stalin was carrying out his purges?” Khrushchev said, “Will the person who asked that question stand up, and then I’ll answer.” Nobody moved. “Yes,” said Khrushchev, “and that’s exactly what I was doing - keeping my head down.”
Which is also exactly what Jesus’ followers were doing on that Sunday morning we are remembering today and which we heard about in our reading - keeping their heads down. They had all gone to ground, terrified that they too might be dragged away and crucified just like Jesus. Only Mary & Salome had the nerve to creep out to tend the corpse, but very very early so no-one would see. They too were scared stiff.
And they were expecting problems because they knew they couldn’t manage to move the huge stone that blocked the way to the body. Then suddenly, just problems? No it was much worse - the stone had been moved, and there was no body, just a message. And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
That’s it, for the writer, Mark, end of story.
What a strange story it is, with no proper end. No obvious victory, no spectacular triumph. Just a strange message - go back to Galilee, go back to where it all began, go back to your lives for he has gone before you.
In saying, go back to Galilee It’s as though Mark is inviting us this morning to go back to where we belong - to our homes, our schools and work places and continue the story in our world, in our lives. For he has gone before us and will be there with us.
Where’s Jesus gone? There he is - waiting for us as we go out into the world to continue the story in our own lives with faith in our risen Lord.