Easter week has passed and I am living in the glory of the resurrection. This is the week of glimpses of the risen Lord – the confirmation that he is alive in the daily of our lives.
We are walking home from work and he catches up with us – just some guy who wants someone to walk with. We are intent on our own conversation but we pause just long enough to acknowledge Him, then go on talking.
“We’re discussing the assassination,” we say. “We’re sure you’ve heard about it, how strange it all was. This man called himself the Son of God, the King of the Jews, and the government ruled he was a blasphemous heretic. But he quoted the prophets while he was dying and told the criminal beside him he’d see him later that same day – in paradise. He forgave his executioners because of their naivety and made sure some man was given the responsibility of taking care of his mother.”
Then our walking partner begins to point out things about him we hadn’t noticed ourselves, drawing parallels to what the prophets had said about the Messiah. We were drawn to this fellow pilgrim like one is drawn to a child telling the truth. We invited the guy home for dinner.
Then, at the table, our table, he stands up and takes the loaf of bread we’ve baked the night before, breaks it into pieces and serves it to us. We both have this wave of déjà vu, like we’d been here before, and then he is gone.
A bunch of our friends are hiding in a room because the inner city street vibe is very unsettling. We are discussing again all we have heard him say and seen him do in the last few years. The door is bolt-locked. Someone even shoves a bench against it. Then, all at once, he is there – with us. Tom has no more than gotten the words out of his mouth, “Not me! I’m not a sucker for rumors and tricks. I won’t believe he’s alive unless I can jam my fingers into the gashes in his hands and side…” And there he is with us.
“Go ahead,” he says. “If touching helps you believe, then touch.”
Upset by the grief and exhaustion of the whole execution thing, a bunch of us decide to go fishing. Fishing always seems to get things into perspective. We leave in the evening when the fish are usually starting to bite, and we stay out in the boat all night, talking and being still by turns. When the light of dawn starts to break over the horizon, we start in with our catch. There on the beach we can see a fire and someone hovering over it, cooking breakfast. As we get closer to shore, the figure stands up, and we recognize the Lord.
“Come, have some breakfast,” he hollers when we get close enough. It’s just like old times, like nothing ever happened on Golgotha. He is grinning and laid back.
Then he has a very interesting conversation with Peter, asking him if he loves him. Because of Peter’s behavior the night of the crucifixion, Peter is taken back at first with the questions and eager to let Jesus know he’ll do anything to make it up to him. But Jesus just gives him responsibility for leadership and then hands him some hot fish and fresh bread, as if he wants to erase all the bad memories from Peter’s mind and make him know that he is still in.
There are other times, too. All of them involve doing regular things: walking, talking, grilling, eating, fishing. I think it is important that we all know that the risen Jesus is a part of our regular lives, so we won’t make some fantasy or legend of him, some religion or fable. No, this is the week of the real Jesus in real places.
For me, I see him walking across the yard laughing, helping the little ones find Easter eggs. I see him in a long conversation about choices and options over coffee with our college graduate grandson.
I sense him with me when I am trying to prioritize our schedule, choosing what to say yes to and what to eliminate. I feel his wisdom when I am trying to wrestle into words ideas that can’t be said in words.
I sense he is speaking when I am listening to two friends whose faith has been damaged by charlatans and feel him assuring me that all I have to do is to love them and be real.
He shows up alive and in person when I feel too afraid to trust him with my fears. I give him our children – now grown – once again. I give him Benjy’s anxieties about his film project and his excitement about recent auditions; I give him Suzanne and her many faceted writing. I give him Amy’s acting and her trying to hold in tension all her loves—her husband, her professional choices, her almost-grown children, her heart.
And Bill. I trust this Christ to walk with him, too, and to lean on him when there’s no way to talk, to love him better than I can when he hurts.
“Do you love me more than these?” I hear him ask. “I do, Lord, even more than these.”