Summary: Christ is present in the empty places of our lives.
Title: Into the Emptiness with Jesus
Text: Mark 16:1-8
Thesis: Christ is present in the empty places of our lives.
“Astronomers have discovered a gaping hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as the mysterious unseen ‘dark matter’.” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823164846.htm)
When we say it is nearly a billion light years across, we mean that if you struck a match on one side of the hole, it would take one billion years for it to be seen on the other side of the hole. In other words, the match would have been extinguished for a billion years before its flash is seen on the other side. The idea is that this is a massive void.
What they have discovered is what is known as a black hole.
Project Black Hole Photo
A black hole is a region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, including light, can escape its pull. The black hole has a one-way surface called an event horizon into which objects can fall, but out of which nothing can come out. It is called ‘black’ because it absorbs all the light that hits it, reflecting nothing.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole)
Basically, anything that gets near a black hole gets sucked into what we might describe as a cosmic whirlpool.
My thought this morning is that a cosmic black hole is a fitting metaphor for any number of experiences in life that can suck us into empty voids of discouragement and despair.
The death of a loved one may be such a place of emptiness.
I. Death is understood to be the end of our earthly existence…
So they entered the tomb… Mark 16:5-6
• While there is life there is hope.
• When death occurs, we accept it as final.
In II Samuel 12 King David returns home to find that his infant son is gravely ill. He begged God to spare the boy. He refused to eat and laid on the bare ground all night. He was utterly broken by his son’s illness. After a week of despair, the baby died. Then David promptly got up, showered and shaved, put on clean clothes and ate.
When asked why when the baby was sick he grieved but then when the child died he pulled it together and got on with life? And David said, “I fasted and wept when the baby was alive, for I thought that perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live. But now that he is dead, I cannot bring him back again. I will go to him one day but he cannot return to me.” While there is life, there is hope but in death there is a sense of finality.
• Then, we commit the earthly remains of our loved ones their final resting place on this earth (and commend their spirits to God).
In the Matthew account of the death and burial of Christ, we understand that Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate released his body to Joseph who took the body, wrapped it in a long linen cloth and placed it in his own tomb which was newly carved out of the rock. He then rolled a great stone across the entrance to seal the grave.
In the following verse it says, “Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting nearby watching.” Matthew 27:61
In her book A Paradise Called Texas Janice Jordan Shefelman tells the story of a young girl named Mina, whose family immigrated from Germany to The Republic of Texas in 1845, the year Texas became a state. Their ship, The Margaretha, off-loaded the German immigrants at a beach called Indian Point, which is near the present day city of Corpus Christi. The immigrants set up something of a tent city on the beach…
It was December and many of the immigrants became ill and died of pneumonia, including Mina’s mother. In chapter 9, titled Mama Gone, the narrative picks up, At twilight Herr Kaufmann, Herr Hessler, and four other men carried Mama’s casket along the beach. Papa, Mina, and friends followed along behind. Papa was holding Mina’s hand as they walked. In her other hand Mina clutched the little wooden seagull Papa had made for her. The wind was blowing from the north as they walked up from the beach to the burial site.
The men lowered the casket into the ground. Papa held Mina tightly. Then Mina pulled the seagull out of her pocket, broke away from Papa, and laid it on top of Mama’s casket.
"Fly away, Mama, fly away from here." Then Mina ran back to Papa, and hid her face against his chest. She did not want to see Mama’s casket covered with earth. In her mind’s eye she saw her little gull fly away from the casket. (Janice Jordan Shefelman, A Paradise Called Texas, Chapter 9, Mama Gone)