By Pastor Kathy Itzin
Easter isn’t a one day event. The idea is that it goes on for fifty days. Lent is only forty days (not counting Sundays, the day of the Resurrection), so Easter trumps Lent. Our time of celebration is bigger and more important, than the time of preparation and repentance.
Jesus keeps appearing during the whole Easter season! First, Mary Magdalene meets him in the garden. Then he shows up when the disciples and other friends and family are gathered in the upper room. Thomas isn’t there, so he comes back again a week later. Meanwhile, two disciples were walking to the next town, (seven miles away) and Jesus joined them. Later, his buddies saw him on the shore when they were out fishing, and he made them breakfast.
What do these appearances have in common? What is the thread that shows when and where Jesus is likely to appear? Nothing. There isn’t one. I love that!
Jesus shows up in entirely different circumstances to different people with no discernable pattern. A grieving woman has just lost her world. She doesn’t know what to do. The disciples are terrified and hiding out, hoping that they don’t get killed like Jesus. Two friends are visiting while traveling together. A group of men are ending the night at work, doing what they do six days a week, and they just want to go home after a bad night of catching nothing.
And John’s Gospel says, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book…” (John 20: 31) Did others see him too? What about people he never met before, but were sad to hear about his death? How about the woman of Samaria, or one of the people that he’d healed?
Jesus didn’t just show up one day to Mary Magdalene. He kept appearing many times to many people. The Gospel writers wanted to make sure that we ‘got’ this! The people who were around when Jesus died either experienced, or heard stories of other people experiencing Jesus’ presence with them again.
So, what about today? How do we experience him? Where is Jesus when children in Syria are killed by bombs, or when families in Somalia, Ethiopia, or Sudan are starving? What about when we personally have a great loss, trouble, or grief?
That’s where he still is. Right there. As one of my friends likes to say, “Where the rubber meets the road.” There’s Jesus. We may not see him in the same way as Mary did, but he’ still there.
When Jesus was walking around Nazareth, he was one man in one place. Now, he’s not limited anymore. He is also not limited by our ability to ‘see’ or ‘feel’ or Not ‘see’ or ‘feel’ his presence. Thankfully, it doesn’t depend upon us. We don’t need to earn it. Jesus promises,(in many places), “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the ages.” (Matthew 28: 20)