As of Friday, April 1, 2016
Easter is over. While the Easter season will continue for several weeks, the excitement and great joy that the resurrection of Jesus inspires is over. Now what?
In the Gospel, according to St. John, there is an interesting after-Easter story. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael and the brothers James and John are back home in Galilee. Jesus has risen. They have seen him. But they don’t know what to do. What does one do post-resurrection? Perhaps they are asking themselves “now what?”
Perhaps when in doubt it is best to do what is familiar. These disciples turn to what they know. They go fishing. They fish all night and as they return to shore at daybreak, they see Jesus on the beach making breakfast. I wonder what they thought and felt. What does one do after a resurrection? For that matter, what can Jesus do for an encore?
Jesus makes breakfast for hungry fishermen. Has nothing changed? Yes, and no. It is still the same lake, the same beach, same fishermen’s breakfast and the same fishermen. But now they see it all through Easter eyes. These men would never look at life in the same way again. Graduation from resurrection does not mean entry into some new world, some new form of existence. It means life will look familiar but will feel quite different.
The misty lake, with the green hills that roll back from the shore, the rich blue sky above, the faces of their fellow fishermen, are all familiar. The smell of the campfire and the bony little fish frying, all this they have known all their lives. But, now it is all different because the tall, bronzed young man who bends across the fire, has made everything different. He has given them eyes to see and ears to hear, as he said he would. All must be used in the real world they have known since birth.
Too often people try to appeal for religious faith by looking to the unnatural. They appeal to miracle, to other-worldly experiences. God, the Great Coincidence, is effectively pushed out of daily living although He planted himself firmly there in the Incarnation. The smell of fresh frying fish for breakfast gives the message that God is to be discovered in the commonplace.
The message is for us as well. While we rejoice in the miracle of Easter, God calls us to continue to live in the real world. Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is that God is to be found everywhere we look if we have eyes to see. Look around and see God present in the signs of spring and new life in nature, in the smiles of our loved ones, and in the faces of strangers. God is with us. The Great Coincidence is no coincidence. God calls us to go about our ordinary lives, yet to see things with Easter eyes. Then God calls us to reach out in love and compassion to all people.
After this once-in-all-history event of Easter, God returned to ordinary people in ordinary settings to work His will.
Let us seek to continue the work that Jesus started. Christ is risen. Alleluia. Amen!
Pat Beeman is the pastor of the Sunnyside United Methodist Church.