The final week of Jesus’s life leads into the first week of the disciples’ lives without him.
Endings and beginnings – this is the way of all things.
I’m pretty sure most of us can relate to the experience of losing someone who was very important and very close to us. Such grief defies simple articulation yet demands that we at least try. Grief unfolds in so many ways; the experience has both common and unique characteristics. There are no ‘correct’ or normal ways of navigating the experience of someone dying, only the way that each person identifies as their way of accepting and integrating their loss.
The disciples were no different to us. Their humanity was exposed during that final week and is revealed again in the weeks that followed. The Gospels and the Book of Acts have a go at trying to reveal glimpses of what the disciples felt, thought and did in the weeks, months and years after the crucifixion of their teacher – we read about confusion, fear, doubt, and disorientation. We even see glimpses of them attempting to re-establish some kind of normality. Some even go back to the fishing business.
But what we also learn from them is that once grief has held you in its grasp, the old ‘normality’ cannot be resumed. A new ‘normality’ has to be crafted. This is something we are all starting to realise about the idea of a new COVID ‘normal’ – life will never be as it used to be back in 2019. The experiences of 2020 have changed us and the world in which we live, in large and little ways. For example, working from home is likely to remain a significant factor in how organisations and employees manage work-life balance. Something that Jacques Ellul, French theologian, Sociologist and Philosopher of Technology anticipated back in 1954 (The Technological Society). He was one of the earliest advocates of practising ‘presence in the modern world’.
The disciples can’t just go back to their old jobs. Their journey with Jesus and the dream that he lived and died for, had changed them in ways that could not be reversed. They had no choice really, but to move on and to integrate into their lives all that they had lost, learned, lived and experienced.
The Easter experience is something they navigated and wrestled with but with a new kind of emerging faith. Thus, the next Chapter in the life of the Jesus Movement begins but it is a chapter that demonstrates how grief-stricken disciples discover fresh purpose and motivation for their lives.
Their story can be our story.