Pastor's Corner: Now what?
Last updated 4/14/2023 at 9:38am
"Easter is the main event," states Owen Meany, the child protagonist of John Irving's novel, "A Prayer for Owen Meany." Yes, many Christians have just experienced Holy Week, with the celebration of Easter, the annual remembrance and proclamation of the resurrection of a crucified, dead and buried Jesus of Nazareth. We pastors and congregations have been building up our spiritual expectations throughout the liturgical season of Lent, reflecting up our own mortality and need for God's holy intervention in the person of Jesus the Christ.
Now what? Post-Christmas and post-Easter I experience an emotional "deflation" that is 80% sleep deprivation and 20% anxiety about the "to do's" I have postponed during lead up to Easter. Yes, I better finish my taxes, vacuum floors and pull the weeds threatening to choke out the tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths poking green leaves up out of the warming soil. The ordinary stuff of life demands our attention. And, it is at this time, that I feel the greatest resonance with the first disciples of Jesus, who also wondered, "Now what?" in the immediate aftermath and grief of the crucifixion.
In church these next few weeks we hear the lived experiences of Mary Magdalene, Thomas the Twin, and other disciples who are coping with loss, fear, doubt and grief-emotions that all of us feel when we lose someone dear. "Now what?" "How will I keep going now that they are gone?" We also hear the answers to those questions in their stories if we pay attention.
• Mary and other women went together to the tomb of Jesus.
• The men were gathered together behind locked doors to pray.
• Two disciples were traveling together to Emmaus, talking about what had happened.
• Some of the disciples went fishing together, resuming work they knew well.
In time of loss and grief, ordinary human activities are healing. We need to gather with others who also mourn. We need to talk about our feelings at what has occurred. We will need the sense of purpose that daily labor - whether doing chores at home or work for wages. And, we need to sustain our life by eating meals with others. Loss is a very personal experience and we each must walk our own pathway of grief, but we are not meant to be alone in our suffering. We need one another.
We also need the comfort of Christ, who promised, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20) And, knowing he was leaving his disciples to return to God, Jesus promised, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you," John 14:18. "Those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them," John 14:21b.
Now what? Easter is passed. Ordinary life tugs for our attention. Will you meet with others who also seek the comfort and presence of the risen Christ? Will you be surprised, finding the sacred in the midst of your daily life? This is the Way of Jesus, that he offered then and he offers now. Alleluia!
Sue King, Pastor of Van Orsdel United Methodist Church, Havre; Chester United Methodist Church ,; Big Sandy United Methodist Church