This time of the year, some folks are looking toward graduation. Graduation is a significant milestone in people’s lives. It represents a transition from the learning experiences of the past to further education or careers in the work force. It is a time to look ahead.
Easter was a sort of graduation for the disciples. It was a transition from the past. They had been following Jesus, listening to him teach, watching him perform miracles, and reaching out to people in need. It was a great education—the best seminary training anyone could have. Suddenly, it seemed to the disciples, it was all over. Jesus was crucified. In the lessons we hear in the Sundays of Easter, we find the disciples dismayed, confused, and in mourning. They did not know what to do next. Jesus appears. The stories in the Gospels all lead to his next departure, his ascension. Like a graduation, he helps them look forward to the future and gives them a purpose. Go to all nations! Teach and baptize! Their education is over. Now they will apply what they have learned. With the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the mission of Jesus begins. The love of God, the forgiveness of sins, the victory over death is now proclaimed to all nations. And the mission continues.
We journeyed in spirit with the disciples through all the pain of separation, the joy of reunion, and the launching of the mission. Now we carry on the mission begun by Jesus, blessed by the Spirit, and spread through God’s people. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!