‘Later that Day, two of Jesus followers were walking from Jerusalem to the Village of Emmaus, seven miles away’ – this is the unassuming beginning of how the gospel writer Luke opens the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
‘Later, Jesus appeared to the disciples beside the sea of Galilee, many of them were there, Peter said, ‘Im going fishing’ and they all joined him’ is a paraphrase of Johns description of what Peter and some of the disciples did, a few days after the resurrection.
‘The Ethiopian had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and now he was returning’ is Lukes description of the Ethiopians situation in Acts 8.
For all of them it was the day after, or at least the evening after.
For Peter, it was the day after the miraculous resurrection, but he knew there would have to be ‘a talk’ , For the disciples there had been such a commotion after the resurrection that they needed to head home, maybe they had to go anyway, back to Emmaus. For the Ethiopian, he was on his way back to Ethiopia after being to Jersusalem on some kind of pilgrimage and hed left probably early, disheartened and confused. We know he wouldnt have planned to be travelling during the heat of the sun…
What of the days after in our Youth work and Ministry;
the day after the residential – everyone had an amazing time but back to the office and you wonder how to make it even better next year
the day after the detached session when there was a fight and you ended up chatting to the police till late, today you have to let the chair of trustees know
the day after the PCC meeting that really did. not. go. well
the day after every youth group which gives us challenges, hopes, energy and life – to be met with a monday day of admin
the day after the funding bids returned unsuccessful
the day after handing in the essay or dissertation to be marked
the day after anything can be a day of mixed emotions, when the adrenaline has peaked and run out, where there are difficult decisions to be made, where there is sense to be made in what might be complexity and confusion. What we might also be good at doing is creating the highs for others, including young people, the event, the club, the camp, the holiday club, and so for them they also have the ‘day after’ to deal with. God might be said to be more miraculously present in the high.
What of the disciples as they walked away into the night from Jerusalem
What of Peter taking the boys out fishing
what of the Ethiopian travelling home
None of them were technically alone, they each had persons with them, whether the chariot rider, fellow disciple or mates on the boat. But having been in the moments of ‘high’ they were now alone, their emotions all over the place, confused, perplexed.
No one is remotely surprised by this, not even Jesus has a go at Peter for fishing. They needed time to breathe, recharge and remind themselves of a skill they once had, the familiar.
However, it is in the day after that God met them all in the familiar. On the familiar road, on the familiar beach with that familiar smell of fish being cooked, and in the familiar chariot hurtling through the desert.
It was in the day after that serious business was taking place. Serious education, discipleship and questions like:
‘what are you discussing as you walk – tell me more’ – Jesus wants to hear and help us understand
‘Do you understand what you are reading‘ asks Philip, tell me more about how you perceive it, feel about it
‘Fellows have you caught any fish‘ asks Jesus, the bread is nearly ready, and I know you’ll feel alot better a)having caught something, and b) eating it.
‘Now come and have breakfast‘ says Jesus who spends time with them on the beach, in the day after, Can i find understanding, belonging and acceptance here?, asks the Ethiopian on the road, Did our hearts burn as we began to understand? – exclaimed the disciples on their road.
So, whats it like for you in the ‘day after’ ? More to the point, what might it also be like for your volunteers, young people in the day after also.
without intending so, our ministry moments might be so highly narrated with God, that by default it can become that day to living is devoid of seeing the spiritual in the mundane – when this neednt be the case
understandably ‘the day after’ a day before of a struggle, challenge, meetings or big decision can bring about a range of emotions, confusion, fear and anxiety. Going fishing, walking or a drive in the car (across a desert..?) may be whats required.
We might also need to be present in other peoples days after, in between the spaces, not just in the spaces, but in the spaces of time, in the day after.
This isnt the time to talk about self care in ministry, only to reflect on the effect of its variety of challenges and emotions.
So – what about you – what about the ‘day after’ for you- what do you do?
If God met the disciples in the days after, we should expect the same dangerous God to meet people in the times unexpected to our design today too, including ourselves.