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After Easter?

by Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler on April 27, 2019

After Easter?

The great drama of Easter is over. The church staff has reported the progress of “putting it away.” The brightly colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and fluffy little chicks are all done at home. Easter is over.

Now what do we do?

There are fifty days in the church calendar to celebrate Eastertide. However, I have never found a church that has the energy to sustain, let alone enhance, the Easter Sunday celebration.

Now what do we do? The world seems little phased or changed by our yearly celebration. Perhaps. The church faces the same challenges as we did a month ago. Yet, the theology of the church and the gospel proclamation of Easter is that everything has changed. The future is open and new. What do we do with that?

I was reading along in the post-Easter narrative in the gospels. I even read ahead to the Ascension and Pentecost narratives in Acts that close out the season. The disciples were afraid, locked in their room out of fear. Who would listen to their Easter experience? Did they even understand what it meant or required of them? They went to the lakeshore, a familiar haunt. But, the narrative makes it seem more like a retreat than picking up their old professions. There is no miraculous haul of fish in this part of the story.

So, I have chosen to take After Easter this year as the disciples might have. I have chosen to look to the future of our congregation and wonder where we are being led by the eternal invitation of God in Jesus Christ. I have chosen to listen deeply to Jesus and imagine a church in which our youngest babies and children will grow up and be nurtured and fortified in the faith. I have wondered what commitments we will need to make, in order to nurture and teach and faithfully fortify them for an emerging and unknown future. And, to be open to being taught by them about their lives and challenges, imagining with them how a new life in faith will look. God is doing a new thing here!

How do we respond to what God is doing? I have chosen to give myself to a future that I may never see, but that I can commit to. I will call us all to invest ourselves in it. I am hoping to carve out time from the busy-ness of “doing church” to seek the path Jesus lays out for us.

This may all sound a bit blurry and cloudy. Perhaps that is what After Easter is for. Perhaps it is to recognize the haze and seek clarity as it emerges. Perhaps it is to give oneself over to waiting and seeking in the sure trust that the Holy Spirit will sweep away the fog and guide us. After Easter is a time when Jesus comes through closed doors and opens us to a new way of being. What does that look like now? Jesus visits us on retreat and by the seashore and inscribes in us the command to feed “my sheep!” The scriptural text reminds us that the sheep know his voice and Jesus knows theirs. Who helps us with this amazing capacity to listen and understand a future we do not yet know?

It is After Easter. There is much that is going on. I pray that embodied in the question “Now what do we do?” is the courage to follow into a future beyond our current reality and contemporary worries. Let the eternal word call us forward and let us give ourselves to it.

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