In the secular world, the world outside the church, Easter is over. In stores the displays of jelly beans, chocolate rabbits, Easter baskets, and green celluloid grass that ends up all over the floors of our homes, are gone, replaced by promotional material and gifts for the next holiday—Mother’s Day. Any Easter items left unsold are relegated to the clearance table, where goodies that only a short time ago were eagerly sought by last minute shoppers, lie outdated and undesirable, in spite of being drastically marked down in price. Yes, Easter is over in the everyday, temporal world.
But in the world of the Christian church, the season of Easter lasts seven weeks. On Easter Sunday the fifty days of the Easter Season begin with the story of the empty tomb and the charge by the messenger to “go and tell”. For the next weeks—until Ascension Day—lectionary scriptures focus on stories of Jesus’ first followers who encountered him against all hope—amid doubt, fear, and confusion—risen from the dead.
During Eastertide, we learn to recognize the risen Jesus where he is to be found, even today, for He can be found among us when we are faithfully bearers of Christ’s presence to the world. And so, though the liturgical season of Easter will end on June 9th, we are called to live all the days of our lives as Easter people.
In this Sunday’s gospel lesson, John 21:1-19, we have one of the several stories of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to his disciples and their companions; this time it’s on a beach. In the course of his conversation with Peter after they have eaten breakfast, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times! When Peter answers in the affirmative, Jesus responds with the short, but all-encompassing directives, “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” It’s an “if” > “then” equation. If you love me, then you’ll do these things. The proof of the love is in the doing.
And so it is for us, as individuals and as a church. Let us be intentional and creative about answering Jesus’ question with our own actions in this Easter season and beyond.
God Bless You,
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ