Now what?

Published 8:22 am Thursday, April 25, 2019

It’s the week after Easter, the great high holy day of the Christian year. And all over the lands, the cry is heard from preachers and church leaders alike – now what?

Now what do we do, after the crowds have gone? Now what do you do after you have hit the high point of the year? After all, once you’ve said “He is risen,” what else is there to say?

Well, a lot actually. Easter is not just a day; it is a season, seven weeks until the next Christian festival day of Pentecost. Seven weeks to proclaim Christ is risen. Seven weeks to reflect on what that means. Seven weeks to ponder the new life given to us by the Resurrected One.

It’s not like we don’t have any stories during this time. There is the wonderful account of the road to Emmaus, with two disciples of Jesus heading out of town for a seven-mile jaunt. Noted writer Frederick Buechner has a wonderful take on this when he describes Emmaus as any place we go to where we want to get away from life for a while, to take a break, to tell everyone else to go away and leave us alone. Emmaus is the place we go to when we want to escape.

It’s normal that we want that. We can’t give strict attention to every detail all the time. We need a break, especially us preachers on the week after Easter. But on this walk, an unknown stranger comes alongside them. They get into a conversation, and this visitor opens up scripture to them in a way that warms their hearts and broadens their minds. He acts like he is going further, but they invite him in for a meal. While there, this unknown visitor takes the role of the host as he takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to him. Then, and only then, do they recognize Jesus for who he is.

That is a story that is so much a part of our lives. We go along, thinking we know exactly what is going on and why and what it means. But then someone opens up a new path for us, a line of thinking for us, a new way of seeing people as our neighbors, as our brothers and sisters, and we see that it has been Jesus there all along. Opening up our worlds, getting us to see him in each other.

Now what do we do after Easter’s glory, after the crowds have gone, after all that’s left of the lilies are their smells in the sanctuary? Now we get about the business of welcoming the stranger, of receiving the other as if they were Jesus. Because who knows? Maybe they are.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON can be reached at robin216@ embarqmail.com.