Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: The End Brings A Beginning

Psalms: 45 *47, 48; 1 Kings 16:23-34; Philippians 1:12-30; Mark 16:1-8(9-20)

We have the last verses of Mark's Gospel as part of our DO reading today. There are two endings here: verses 1-8 and verses 9-20. The first are believed by most Biblical scholars to be the true ending of Mark's Gospel, as it was originally intended. The latter eleven verses are considered addendum written sometime many years later by a transcriber of the Gospel. These two endings are different. The verses 1 through 8 are written in the same style as the rest of this Gospel, ending with Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome being told of Jesus' resurrection and his waiting over in Galilee, and their amazement and terror and fear causing them to flee and say nothing to anyone. A much more terse and open-ended conclusion to this Gospel than verses 9-20 provide.

All endings bring their own form of amazement and fear and terror when we face them. All endings bring about change. But all endings also lead to something new. With Labor Day weekend just behind us, many people have children heading back (or off for the first time) to school: ending summer vacation and beginning a new chapter in their life. Universities kick into high gear after Labor Day, bringing an end to one way of doing work and beginning a new one. Many corporations switch from summer flexible hours to the regular work-a-day hours. Churches switch from summer-vacation-mode to full-on program year activities. All of these, endings and beginnings that can and do bring their own forms of amazement and fear and terror with them.

That's how life runs so often: cycling through endings into beginnings. How do we define these times in our life? How do we mark them? With whom do we celebrate or mourn these passings and beginnings? Amazement is a good descriptor from which we can analyze these changes and chances and opportunities that constantly surround us. What has just ended for us and what is beginning this week? How can we be amazed?

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: At The Gloaming, 2011, jfd+

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