In the first days after loss of a beloved, absence is palpable. Sorrow runs deep. We feel as if there is a hole in the solar plexus. Raw feelings—yearning, unbelief that our loved one is gone—dominate our emotions. As Emily Dickinson says, “The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—”*
After a terrible death, I felt such a sense of deep loss. I was sad and primordially restless. My profound sense of absence sparked a desire to go looking. I was dazed, frightened, and sick to my stomach; my instinct was to howl and wander aimlessly. In the verses before today’s reading, Peter looks for Jesus in the tomb. Our instinct is to go to the tomb, the site of the wreck, the place where the body lay. But we will not find love and life there.
After a while someone suggested I go to the Children’s Hospital and rock a baby. That focused my grief. It turned my gaze from death toward life. It did not take away the grief but turned it toward healing. It became a metaphor for me: When there is death, anxiety, and fear, go cradle life.
In the following days, this One who is risen does not enter through doorways but appears in the midst of the community, on the road to Emmaus, in the house, in anxious rooms behind locked doors. Christ appears bridging the divine and the human, emerging from within, and calming anxiety and fear. Though the followers of Jesus often do not recognize what they are seeing, they hear and feel Christ’s words of comfort, “Peace be with you. As God has given me to you, I give you to the world” (ap) The world does not give security or peace. This Risen One “does not stop the chaos of the world. Rather [Christ] is present within it, calming and untroubling the heart.”**
*Emily Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes—” The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1960), 162.** John Shea, Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers: The Relentless Widow, Year C (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006), 108.
O God, let not our hearts be troubled, nor afraid. Amen.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are unable to remain silent. They go to the Temple to proclaim the gospel. Some receive the message, while others do not. This causes turmoil within the community, but the apostles stand firm in their testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 150 might be on the lips of those early apostles. Everything that has breath should praise the Lord! The author of Revelation recounts a vision that he receives from the risen Jesus Christ, who one day will return as Lord of all nations. In John we learn more about the source of the confidence of the apostles. They have experienced Jesus in the flesh, and this experience gives power to their proclamation of the reality of his resurrection.
Read Acts 5:27-32. When has your faith compelled you to rise up, stand up, or kneel down in obedience to God rather than earthly authorities?
Read Psalm 150. When have you praised God with great noise? When have you praised God with quiet service to creation?
Read Revelation 1:4-8. How do you see peace arising out of violence in the Bible and in the world around you?
Read John 20:19-31. How have your experiences of witnessing violence or the results of violence helped you to understand that violence does not have the last word?
Respond by posting a prayer.