Tuesday, April 03, 2012

We Are The Naked Young Man

Perhaps most curious in Mark's account is the "young man" at the tomb, dressed in a white robe, speaking to the women. The "young man" was part of the story of Jesus' arrest in Gethsemane, dressed then only in a sindon, Mark says, a strip of linen cloth used for wrapping corpses in preparation for burial. When someone tried to seize him, he fled away naked, leaving the garment behind. Now he appears at the tomb, dressed, a witness to Jesus' resurrection. Mark's earliest readers could scarcely have missed noticing how much he was like them, for most of them had been dressed in burial attire on a night before the day of Easter, and had appeared next morning dressed in a white garment, bearing witness to the resurrection of Jesus. In between they had been stripped of the old garment, baptized, crucified with Christ, born again, and raised to a new life. What got buried forever on that morning was themselves, their old selves. They were on their way to where they would be the body of Christ in the world. Their beloved Jesus would clothe himself in them, and say to those who came to dispose of the corpses, "She is not here, she is risen."
Frederick A. Niedner, Jr.

[Frederick A. Niedner, Jr., Homilies for the Christian People, edited by Gail Ramshaw (New York: Pueblo, 1989), 263-64.]


  1. Now, I have no idea who Frederick A. Niedner is, and I was a bit surprised by the date of his "homily":1989, but I can smell a rat. "She is risen"? Haven't you noticed that the ELCA has recently lost 10s of 1000s of members, and about 600 congregations? Why are you pouring more gasoline on the fire?

    This silly homily is obviously just an excuse to take a stab at gender-confusion -- and in this case, the gender-confusion of God. I know of one female pastor who will not use the masculine pronouns to refer to God. I have seen sentences of hers with 5 or 6 "Gods" in them. Insanity. In my humble opinion, this type of "theology" ain't gonna fly -- not for long, anyway.

    By the way, feel free to delete my comment. If you do, you will be joining an increasingly long list of blogs that do.

  2. The "she" is referring to the church, and that is the gender the RC ascribes to the church, no? The church is risen in Christ.

  3. Oh, c'mon, Clint. I binnaround the block a few times. This isn't about RCs. Maybe it is too late.

  4. The "she" can't possibly refer to Christ: it is Christ who says "she is risen." Kathy, it's hard for me to interpret your comment as anything other than willful ignorance: do you ever wonder if the blogs that delete your comments might have good reasons for doing so? You completely misread a not-too-difficult sentence from a sermon on the resurrection and use your misreading as an opportunity to snipe at the church your host serves. I'd find that pretty hard to tolerate if this were my blog.

    I'm intrigued by the ancient baptismal practices described by Niedner: changing from burial attire before baptism to a white garment afterwards. Is this something we have documentation for? Do any present-day Christian communities do something similar? As far as I know, I was wearing the same white baptismal gown both before and after I was baptized.

    1. Keith5:48 AM

      Daniel, in the early Church, those to be baptized would be stripped of their clothes, as a body would be for burial, and then they would descend into the waters of baptism, where they would be immersed. It was understood as death and burial to old life. Then they would come up out of the water and be clothed in a new set of white clothing. Our baptismal gowns and white albs we wear in leading worship are somewhat faint echoes of that practice. Some churches that baptize infants have begun recovering the practice of naked baptism, though not for adults.

  5. Well, OK, I'll defend myself a little... and thanks, Clint.... Actually, I might actually call you a true liberal -- you are willing to listen to the other side -- unlike the "liberals" on blogs who have blocked me.

    I am trying to use discernment. We are counseled by Scripture and Tradition to do this. I have been observing the situation in the church since, well, the early '70s. Conjectures of a guilty bystander.

    In my view, instead of following Scripture and Tradition, many churches -- including the Catholic Church -- have followed the culture -- starting with feminism (it was called "Women's Lib" back then), abortion (1973), and now, finally, gay rights and same-sex marriage. It seems to me the next step is The Emerging Church -- incorporating as doctrine the cultural shift. That's why I said: "Maybe it's too late."

    So -- who do we follow? God or people ("men")? That's all I am trying to say. You can block me if you want....

  6. Kathy, Daniel's response to you is spot on. I believe that often you deliberately misread something in order to set the stage for your agenda, which is consistently the same: to put down the ELCA and liberal churches, etc.

    Your desire to do this is so great that it doesn't matter the source or the actual content of the post, it must (because I'm an ELCA pastor, I imagine) be liberal. So, for example, nevermind that Frederick Niedner is a conservation Lutheran theologian teaching at a conservative Lutheran institution and trained at primarily Missouri Synod institutions: http://www.valpo.edu/theology/faculty/fredniedner.php

    No, he must be liberal because that's the tendency of me/my blog/etc.

    I do attempt to be a true liberal rather than a quasi-liberal. Thanks for noticing that distinction. But I would enjoy responding to your responses much more if you were to take the approach of engaging the actual content of the post, rather than constantly misreading the posts in order to set the stage for your agenda.

  7. Kathy, one more thing, for what it is worth. I think the preacher of this sermon is expressly following both Scripture AND Tradition in his reading of the gospel text. Take a look. He's not exegeting contemporary culture. He's reading the gospel of Mark closely, in conversation with the tradition of the church.

  8. OK, that is true. I agree with everything you said. I do think many, many people have been brainwashed by feminism -- and that is bad. As I said at the beginning of my first comment: I have no idea who Niedner is -- but I have heard many, many people -- liberals -- with the "agenda" of gender-confusion, the agenda of promoting feminism, which is contrary to Scripture and Tradition. This is also true.

    When I do comment, I will try not to "shoot from the hip." ...BTW, since these are just blog comments and not doctoral dissertations, isn't it OK to just spout out a zinger once in a while? That's sorta what I thought I was doing.... and I'm glad that you do not attack me for the content of my comments, just the style.

  9. Sorry, but cannot resist posting here. Frederick A.Niedner is no liberal. I met him recently when I was in America for a Lutheran conference. He is a theology lecturer at Valparaiso University (LCMS). See

    During the conference one of the speaker shared the same observation about this young man in Mark, so it is nothing novel. Frederick Niedner himself was there listening to this story shared by his good friend.