At the end of Mark 15, Jesus is buried. For those of us who have known the end of the story for our whole lives, we cannot imagine what it must have been for those friends and followers of Jesus to have laid him to rest, when such hope had been pinned on him. However, we can probably relate to experiences when things don’t work out the way we want them to, or need them to. Many of us will have had experiences when we have hoped for one eventuality, and have had to learn to live with another. And in this we find something of the grief of the women at Jesus’s tomb. We also can imagine something of the disciples’ despair, scattered and scared as they were. They were sure Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. He had said he was. But this was all wrong. With Jesus in the tomb, they were having to come to grips with laying their hope to rest as well.
And despite the fact that Jesus would rise, those hopes actually needed to be laid down, because Jesus was never going to fulfill them. He wasn’t ever going to lead an armed rebellion against the Romans and make Israel the nation all others bowed to. So while the disciples were going to get Jesus back after the resurrection, the Jesus they got was not the one they had lost. They had believed in his kingship, but had defined its shape in ways that could not accommodate the criminal’s death that Jesus suffered. Their hope was not big enough. They hoped merely for Israel to be the oppressor instead of the oppressed, rather than for the end of oppression for good.
In our lives, we find ourselves with hope that is disappointed. Have we hoped for the wrong thing? Is this a hope that needs to be laid down?
In this way of prayer, give everyone a small stone that represents something we have hoped for, a hope that may have been disappointed. Place a tray in each corner of the space. Invite people to bury their stone beneath the soil, then take a popsicle stick cross and mark the space where it lies. This is both an act of mourning, and an act of hope, for we trust that something will rise, even if it is different to what we were looking for in the first place. You might like to form a closing prayer out of Colossians 3:3-4 as a way of giving shape to this time.