The Next Step is the Hardest
This is the first Easter in years that I have not spent in church. To be fair, it is hard for me to worship on such high holy days as this in my church of employment, so my intentional engagement in a worshipful scenario is probably similar today as it has been in the past few years.
Today, though, has been emotionally and spiritually different. Today, I have been present to the interactions around me. Today, I made effort to put my relationship with my spouse and our families first. Today, I have been thankful for the Lord of Lords who sacrificed his life, and was raised from the dead so that I may participate joyfully in relationship with those that I love deeply.
I’ve also been reading Danille Shroyer’s book Where Jesus Prayed: Illuminating the Lord’s Prayer in the Holy Land. I saw Shroyer speak at the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference last year in Dallas, Texas. While she spoke on the content of a different book, her passion for the topic piqued my interest on her other works. As I sit in the car, on the journey to Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for Easter dinner, Shroyer’s words touch me deeply. She writes that after the Triumphal Entry, after the Crucifixion, after the Death of Jesus the Christ, the disciples had breakfast. After all, there was evening, there was morning, and on that fateful day, the disciples had breakfast.
John 21 (NRSV) describes how Jesus appeared to his disciples on that day:
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Easter happens, and then the world moves on. Shroyer points out that after Easter, it is our turn. As followers of Jesus, we must fill the holes of despair that permeate the world, with a joyful noise of hope. We must respond to the story of redemption with our own form of change. We can fuel up, have some protein filled breakfast, but then we must live each day in a way that glorifies the kingdom.
I have been feeling fragmented recently, as I mourn departure from a congregation that I love and celebrate the new congregation in which I am excited to join. I have emotional and spiritual holes that desperately need to be filled with the love and grace of God.
This Easter, I am filled. I am filled with the blessings and love of God. I am filled with love for my family. I am filled with the healing powers of relationship. I know that taking on the work of establishing