Easter Letter 2020


“When is an ending not an ending?” once asked Norman Petersen. The question is not as random as it may first appear. In the last pages of Mark’s gospel an editorial note states, “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” The most reliable manuscripts of Mark’s gospel conclude, ‘Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” (16:8). In other words, Mark’s original ending stops in mid-sentence and fails to provide an appearance of our Risen Lord. Such an observation may be unsettling at first, but I think requires of us to ponder, “When is an ending not an ending?”

Lamar Williamson, Jr., a New Testament scholar wrestling with Petersen’s question while studying the gospel of Mark answered, “When a dead man rises from the tomb—and when a Gospel ends in the middle of a sentence.” The strange ending of Mark’s gospel has held to much debate. Without getting too deep into the muck and mire of the history of biblical interpretation, I venture to suggest that Mark intended his version of the Easter story to end this way and that the Early Church did not need to add an appendix (Mark 16:9-20) to smooth the gospel’s ending.

In the original ending of Mark, we discover three moves that occur. In vv.1-4, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb. We find in vv. 5-7, a young man in the tomb who gives them a message, and in v.8 we are told the women leave the tomb. However, even Mark’s original ending provides us the core message of Easter when he writes, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).

The gospel of Mark moves quickly to get us to this moment in history. For example, Mark doesn’t bother to tell us about Jesus’ birth. He barely lets us know that Jesus had been tempted in the wilderness. Mark’s gospel provides the bare bones of Jesus’ teachings and parables. However, Mark’s gospel is light on many of the details the other gospels give us. I think Mark does this on purpose. Mark doesn’t simply want us to know about Jesus, as if we have him all figured out. Rather, Mark wants us struggle to keep up with Jesus who is always on the move, to use our time wisely getting to know Jesus and growing deeper as his disciple. I believe Mark could have reported that first Easter in a myriad of ways but wants us to know that Mark 16:1-8 is not the end. We are invited to explore the tomb and embody the emotions of surrounding that first Easter. The goal as I see it, is not merely to receive an appearance of our Risen Lord as we stand within the tomb looking out, but to continue to encounter Jesus in our own “Galilee.”

I would like to invite you into the sacred drama of Holy Week, April 9th – April 12th. On Holy Thursday, April 9th @ 7pm we will reenact the meal when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. On Good Friday, April 10th at noon we will leave from Moore Park to retrace the footsteps of Jesus to his death. On Holy Saturday is a day we continue to reflect on Jesus’ words, life, and death. On Easter Sunday, April 12th, we gather in Gibbs Parlor @ 8:30am and 10:45am in the Sanctuary to celebrate the ending that is not an ending—the resurrection of Jesus Christ through triumphant hymns, awe-inspired moments of silence, corporate prayer, the reading and proclamation of the Easter message, and decorating the cross with cut flowers (flowers will be provided). Your presence would be a blessing.


Easter Blessings,


Nicholas Perry, Pastor





Sunday, April 5 – Palm Sunday – Communion

8:30 – Worship in Gibbs Parlor

9:45 Sunday School

10:45 – Worship in Sanctuary


Holy Thursday, April 9 7:00 PM

Combined service with Hurlbut Church at Westfield


Good Friday—April 10—Way of the Cross

Noon— Moore Park


Easter Sunday, April 12

8:30 Service

10:45 Worship