The Aftermath….of Easter?
Chaplain Bill Wolfe / Llano County Sheriff's Department
Hello, and welcome to the May 2009 edition of the Chaplain’s Corner. I’ve decided to be good and not address the country’s “goin’ south.” Actually this month’s title and idea came as I was sitting in church this morning, listening to the sermon about “Doubting Thomas.” I think it’s interesting that just last night I told my wife that I needed an idea and maybe if we made it to church, I’d get one. This is the second time I’ve been “inspired” for one of my articles during Pastor Rich’s messages.
Aftermath and Easter aren’t words that I’ve ever heard used together. I heard that, wise guy … “after Math comes Shop class.” Sheesh. The dictionary … and no, it’s not Biology. You gotta watch these guys ALL the time.
As I was saying, the dictionary offers a definition that I think we most often relate to the word aftermath: a result or consequence, especially an unpleasant one. As I contemplated the word and negative connotation of it, it seemed that maybe it fit more with Good Friday than Easter. Let’s take a moment to consider it in that context. Good Friday, of course, is the title we currently use to identify the day when Jesus was illegally tried, condemned, and crucified (suffered His line-of-duty death).
The aftermath of those events could be described as “shock and devastation.” Not on the populace as a whole, but certainly for Jesus’ friends, disciples and family. The center of their lives had just been cruelly ripped out, leaving a terrible void. I’m sure that for a long time they just couldn’t feel. Then they mourned. They wondered how they would ever be able to go on with their lives. Nothing would be the same from then on. Yes, aftermath surely fits. What they went through is not really any different that what we go through when a friend, coworker, or family member suffers a line-of-duty death.
But the “aftermath of Easter”? Certainly there was an unexpected result that morning… the stone was rolled away. Jesus’ enemies were confounded and perhaps dumbfounded. His disciples were blown away and struggled to comprehend what had happened. Jesus’ disciples, friends and family had forgotten or not understood many of His key teachings, not the least of which was that He would rise again from the dead. Hence Thomas’ steadfast refusal to believe until he had a personal and physical encounter with the Risen Christ.
Easter brought with it the old “good news/bad news.” The good news for His followers was that He was risen and was alive forever more. The bad news was that He wasn’t going to stay with them physically, but rather would be ascending back into Heaven for an undetermined amount of time. Just when they were getting their feet back under them, the disciples were having to deal with the loss again…like a scab being torn off of a not-quite-healed wound.
The four Gospels never indicate when Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, died. But he is not mentioned from the time Jesus started His ministry, so it’s logical to assume that Jesus knew firsthand what it was like to grieve over the loss of a close family member. Certainly He knew what it was like to lose a friend, for He wept when Lazarus died. Jesus never intended to leave His friends and family broken in spirit and despondent.
His followers had forgotten that He promised that because He was going “away.” He would send – the Greek word is “paraklētos” – a “Helper” or “Comforter” a.k.a. God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was to take on a role as a comforter to those who were grieving and brokenhearted; the discouraged and distraught; a source of strength to those who weren’t up to facing tomorrow.
This then, is the “aftermath of Easter”: God’s Holy Spirit coming to those touched by line-of-duty deaths. And the “aftermath” continues to this day. The Holy Spirit comes into individuals’ hearts and lives and changes them, healing the broken hearts. Giving them hope and strength to face the future. We’ll never really be able to understand why it had to happen to that one who was special to us. We have to take time to grieve for them and for the hole that their passing has left in our lives. But if we will allow the Holy Spirit to, He will help us face life and carry on.
Until next time … blessings to you and yours.