Easter Meditation—When Tragedy Happens

  • Posted on May 17, 2012

Here is a meditation on a recent Easter sermon.  After the tragic recent events at St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, we all feel in shock.  When tragedy happens suddenly and violently, we wonder where is God.  God is among us.  In the simple things….


Jesus appears to the women and the disciples is several places after he has risen from the dead.

Jesus comes to Mary in the garden by the tomb.

He comes to the disciples twice in the Upper Room—one with Thomas and one without.

He appears to two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and at their home.

And in today’s Gospel reading—which takes place just after the road to Emmaus story—Jesus appears to them yet again.

And in this story, Jesus asks for something to eat.

And the disciples give him a piece of broiled fish and Jesus took the fish and ate it in their presence.

 All we know in Luke’s Gospel is that “they were talking about” the road to Emmaus experience and Jesus “stood among them” and said “Peace be with you.” 

Startled yet again, thinking they saw a ghost.

Is this the same story as in John’s Gospel, when we do know the location:  Jesus meets the disciples at by theSeaofTiberiusinGalilee….where the disciples first met Jesus three long years before.

It would make sense that Jesus would ask for fish when the disciples had just hauled in 153 fish and Jesus in John’s Gospel had said “Come and have breakfast.” 

 It’s all so very mysterious—the resurrection appearances of Jesus.  He appears in the Upper Room, in a garden, on the road to Emmaus and by the sea as the disciples go back to catching fish….but how can they go back to a life they led so very long ago….and after all they had seen in the three years they followed the carpenter’s son fromNazareth.

How could the disciples choose to go back to their old life…when they surely were different inside?   How could they remember that their lives had been changed?  How could they be sure that it all hadn’t been a dream?  How could they remember what Jesus had taught them—the important message he left?  Wasn’t it becoming a bit hazy?


Poet William Stafford has written a poem called “The Way It Is”

And it is about how we remember what is important


There’s a thread you follow:  It goes among

Things that change.  But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die;

And you suffer and get old.

Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.


Jesus’ resurrection appearances are pieces of that thread.  For the disciples and For us.


Because “everyday in our lives we face a series of choices.”

Our gamut of technological communications makes us “feel the need to respond to every choice” insisting on being heard so that we often “override the more gently subtle events like a sunrise or sunset….and we begin to erode any rhythm of a natural life. “

And our pace of life leads us to do two things:  (1) feel compelled to make our decisions more quickly, less thoughtfully, less reflectively and less accurately.

And (2) somehow begin to feel that the impacts and consequences of the myriad choices before us each day are so far reaching that it is impossible to ever know if we have chosen carefully enough or wisely enough.

As a result, we become tied in knots—unable to move—to choose—to know what is important.  We lose the thread to our own story.  We lose the thread to God’s story.

And we forget to trust that we are good and whole as we are….we forget that we can trust the movement of our hearts, minds and bodies.

We want a blueprint, a manual, we want specifics on how to succeed with our life.

How do we choose the next right thing.

Wayne Muller in his wondrous book:  “A Life, of Being, Having and Doing Enough,” says that we must work towards two ways of being:

(1)   Nourish and strengthen a deep faith and trust in our own inner knowing, our intuitive capacity to listen, the reliable wisdom of our bodies, minds and hearts.

(2)   Be clear about the difference between HOW we make choices and WHY we make them.

Gerald May, in The Awakened Heart, contrast the difference between the HOW and the WHY which he says is the difference between efficiency and love.

May says that “efficiency is the how of life.”    How we meet and handle the demands of daily living, how we survive, grow and create, how we deal with stress, how effective we are in our functional roles and activities.  Those are important pieces of living.

Love is the Why of Life:  Why we are functioning at all, what we want to be efficient for.  As we grow older and more responsible for people and things, we are conditioned by the world to believe that efficiency is more important than love.  It’s a common and universal trap that we fall into again and again.

Ask yourself:  HOW often have you allowed the HOW of our choices to overshadow the WHY?

Haven’t we all had a family vacation where the hows have taken over the whys?  Haven’t we had a parish event where the very same thing happens

Resurrection appearances:  Jesus returns to the simple.  Fish, Bread. Touch my hands and my side.

There is nothing efficient about Jesus’ resurrection appearances.

It is all about love. 

And love is what Jesus leaves the disciples with.

After the great fish gathering in John, after they had gone ashore,

“they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it and bread.  And Jesus says, Come and have breakfast.” 

And when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,  “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?  Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus asks Peter again, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter said to him, Yes Lord you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “tend my sheep.”

A third time, Jesus asks:  “Simon son of John do you love me?”

Peter said, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

 It’s all about love. A loaf of bread.  A fish.  A walk.  A meal. It really is all about the simple things. 

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