Case in point, Easter was the most unique spiritual experience of my life this year. I had a very profound sense that I understood just a little bit better the sense of tragedy, helplessness, and isolation that that the disciples felt as their teacher was betrayed, torn from them, tortured and killed. I know what they were feeling as there worlds spun inside their heads in the subsequent hours and days. And I also know how strange it felt when they went back to work. With there worlds torn apart and their lives uprooted and nothing the same as it was only days, even hours, ago, Peter, John, James and others, went back to work. How could they do this? The better questions, as I have learned first hand is, How could they not have?
John Chapter 21 gives us tremendous insight as to how the disciples handled the dramatic events of the crucifixion and resurrection. The New Living translation reads thus, "1Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night."
"I'm going fishing," Peter says... in other words, "I'm going back to work. I'm going to go do what I know to do - what is familiar to me - what makes me happy and in which I find comfort."
I was preaching Sunday, February 1st, yes - Superbowl Sunday - when three men in black jackets walked into the sanctuary. It was a good sermon, you can check it out here in the archives if you want. I was right in the middle of it with about 15 minutes to go when I noticed them at the side door of the sanctuary. Strange as it was it didn't bother me. When the service was over my wife immediately came to get me and told me that three men from the county wanted to talk with me. Even stranger; but I met them in the nursery and they asked if I was Brian Warner and could we speak in private.
It was not until we went to a private space that one of the men unzipped his jacket and I saw that they were from the Cumberland County Coroner's office. They asked me if Jeannete Warner was a relative of mine and once it was established that she was my sister, they relayed the events of the early morning. Nettie was ill, struggling to breathe. She called the EMTs but died before they could get there to help her.
They knew to come to the church because Nettie had the church website up on her tablet and was listening to the previous week's sermon.
As the world reeled around me my first thought was of my father who was still upstairs. I ran up and sat everybody who was left down and shared what the coroner had shared with me. You can only imagine the magnitude of the devastation coming on the heals of my mother's deal just over a year ago.
Dad and I absorbed the news, talked a bit with each other and with a few of the good folks that stayed to help us an then parted ways. What was next? What is the protocol for such things? Neither of us knew or even could imagine. My response???
"I'm going to go watch football."
Safe, peaceful, familiar. There was really nothing else that I could do.
Reading John 21 again and again, I felt the "humanness" of the disciples come through. I felt the reality of the situation along with the questions and the confusion and the need to get back into "safe mode." For Peter and the others, it was fishing in Galilee. They were real people facing real issues and real fears and what they did makes me feel OK about what I did; and it makes me feel a bit closer to them as a person and a brother in Christ.
Maybe you can relate to my personal story; but we can ALL relate to the resurrection story. What did you do after Easter Sunday? Did you give Easter a second thought? Did you just go back to work Monday without wondering about anything else? Did you give thought to what it must have been like immediately after the resurrection at all? How overwhelming it must have been to really real people living really real lives who had to come up with some way of making sense of it all?
In the long run, they would. In the short run - they went fishing.
Now I know why they did. I totally get it.
Thank You Jesus.