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After reading Hall’s poem, consider the text from Mark’s Gospel, and then again consider the terror of an empty tomb. Too much of Christianity has been domesticated. The resurrection is certainly an overwhelming joy — but not a cheap one. That God has come into the world; that death has been overcome; that a kingdom has been announced is wondrous good, terrifyingly good news.


By Donald Hall

When I see the cradle rocking
What is it that I see?
I see a rood on the hilltop
Of Calvary.

When I hear the cattle lowing
What is it that they say?
They say that shadows feasted
At Tenebrae.

When I know that the grave is empty,
Absence eviscerates me,
And I dwell in a cavernous, constant
Horror vacui.

Advent: the Christian season immediately prior to Christmas
Rood: Old English, a cross
Tenebrae: Latin, darkness
Horror vacui: horror of the void.

Hall’s poem captures the end of Mark’s Gospel:

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back-it was very large.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.
6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
8 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.

Mark 16:1-8. See, https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/amazement-in-mark/

11 As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.
Job 14:11-12