Exhilaration and Terror at the Passing of the Torch
Have you ever graduated from something? Usually a graduation is preceded by a long-term, intentional period of preparation. For that time, the prep is all consuming, isn't it? Once you graduate, the goal is accomplished, and it's time to celebrate!
But wait... now what?! When the prep is all consuming and then it's just done, then what happens? Usually, the next step is a completely new life filled with vastly different daily activities, new people, and a lot of unknowns.
I imagine this is just what Jesus' followers experienced -- a moment of celebration followed by "now what?!" Jesus was quite clear about what's next -- it's their turn to take the mission and ministry in their own hands and continue the work. But think of how vastly different their daily activities would be without the physical presence of their leader. Jarring, at the least -- terrifying, probably.
But even the terrifying can be exhilarating. This is what they'd prepared for, what they'd learned, and what they'd worked for these few years. The time has come for them to leave the nest. Hang on, disciples -- it's going to be quite a ride!
Narrative Lectionary Text: Luke 24:36-53
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.