The First Night of Easter

read disclaimer here

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.  But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.—Luke 24:28-29 (NIV)

It’s the night of Easter.   You would think that sitting here, reading this would be the last thing you need.  You just participated in the most significant event on the Christian calendar.  The church didn’t hold back but gave you her best in sermons, hymns, and Scripture readings.  Not to mention the brunch with family and friends.    Why are you reading this?  Didn’t you get enough spiritual diet for one day?  Why do you want more?  What in you recognizes the need for more than a religious bump marking a spiritual spring from the wastelands of winter?

What follows over the course of the next few days is not for everyone.   In fact, it’s not for most.  Let’s be candid, it’s for the rare people like you who come back at the end of Easter Day thankful, but yearning for more.

There is a story in the Easter narrative for people like us—the outliers who yearn for more.

Luke’s description of the First Easter morning service included familiar pieces like the gathering of Jesus followers, Mary’s evangelistic appeal declaring, “He is risen!” the awakening of hope for some and skepticism for others, and something many of us identify with--the return home after the service where the sermon is critiqued and maybe even the preacher’s legitimacy questioned and for most the awakening of the “what if” factor.   Each detail and moving part of that morning sequence was not just significant and magnificent but seems to get replayed again and again each Easter.

What seems to get lost in all of this was the personal resurrection encounter and transformational genesis that happened the First Night of Easter.  Not on Easter morning, not in the metropolis of Jerusalem, not with the masses, or the elite Eleven.  It happened on the road to a forgotten village, with an unnamed disciple and his not so well-known friend. 

Two disciples we have little historical record of
and a village that we cannot agree on the location of.

There is much we don’t know about these two little known and unknown disciples.  And for good reason, Luke wants us to understand something, resurrection life wasn't revealed to the who’s who of the thousands of Jesus’ followers.   He draws our attention to two gutsy debaters, marginal disciples arguing in animated tones about Easter Morning late into Easter Evening.  Luke knows there are more of us out there
who can relate more to these two
than those at the tomb.

Luke makes a statement by giving us a picture of the First Night of Easter.  The statement is this:  there is more to Easter than what happened this morning. 

Yes, that morning marked the climatic resolution to the crucifixion of Jesus.  Yes, that morning was the vindication of Jesus’ honor and trust in the Father.  And for those who see Easter as the story about someone else, namely Jesus, that morning was the perfect storybook end. 

But for the few who continued into that story, as though it was their's, that morning marked the cracking open of a new book,
a “Once upon a time”
rather than an “and they lived happily ever after.”   

Easter morning launched a sequence of 50 transformational days culminating in Pentecost. 

Those first few followed on the heels of Jesus' power and transformed life into possessing their own transformed life!  Between Gethsemane’s scattering-out-of-fear and Pentecost’s gathering-for-faith it happened.  History tells us that fifty days later they emerged from their own metaphorical tombs, awake and alive.  Not merely a future hope, but a now life!  

This morning was not all there was to Easter.   And for those who think I am referring to the future, let’s be clear, what happens after death is not all there is to Easter either.   Easter is in the I Am.   The now.  Whether that was the now of the past or the now of the future or the now of the now.  The lazy and indifferent posture is that Easter is all about the past and the future.   But for us outliers Easter becomes--in all its transformational glory--about the here and now.   And all nows from now on.

Luke shows us the way into that radical nowness of resurrection.   He packs it into the story of The First Night of Easter.   All the clues and signs, the knowledge and invitation are laid open before us.  The unrecognizable resurrection is under our nose, tugging at us, wooing us to investigate and quest into what it wants to become in us.

Luke sketches the events of that morning’s first Easter service (24:1-12).  After the service and perhaps a meal everyone returns home.  And what happens next takes twice the space to unpack (24:13-35).  This is where Easter happened to them, and this is where it happens to us.

Please read T H R O U G H the story, not merely at the words, but look through them as if they are a window of words.  Let your heart investigate each prop and artifact, listening to the living voice behind vocabulary.     You already know what happened.  But what you don’t know is what it is speaking to you right now.  You have never been at this now before.   And this living story talks in the nowness.  And when it does the resurrection begins reading you.

Go ahead and pick it up.   Luke 24:13-35.  

Luke relentlessly strikes home the point that resurrection is encountered in the conversations.  

He opens the First Night of Easter with two disciples encountering the resurrection “while they were talking and debating” and he ends with the Eleven encountering the resurrection “while they were saying these things.”  Luke details the conversation, even noting the questions that spurred the encounters, and the describing the inner sensation the two disciples had “while he talked on the road.”  

Because of this level of detail, we have a foot-up on the starting point and look-in at the inner description of the encounter.

You too will need a Clopas, someone to walk with you after Easter Morning, a debater, conversationalist that processes the inner journey.  (We’ll come back to that in a couple days so keep your heart open to who the Resurrection will bring alongside you in your Emmaus-quest).

Tonight our attention is drawn to these words: 
           “we had hoped… to redeem.” (the hope that their external fortunes would change)
           “did not our hearts burn within us.”  (the awareness that something was happening inside of them)

Action

(for the insight, skills, and empowerment to emerge you have to experience it, to experience it you must act on it) 

  • What hopes are dead?  (write down your gravest present disappointments) 
    • e.g.  the failure of my marriage, the loss of direction, the financial bondage, the addictive behaviors of my life.
  • Where did your heart burn within you today?  Walk through each song, the sermon, the Scriptures, conversations, the lunch-time moments, and even the stories.   Look for the moments that your heart was a burning ember, a warm glow.  What was being said?  What was happening?  What were you hearing and observing in those moments?

Up Next:

The narrative through the badlands that we are walking for the next 50 days has 6 scenes and 50 acts.  These acts will be posted at 12:01 a.m. the day of the act.  

"'Follow me," if you dare.  My discipline is to be up between 4am-6am and giving the freshest 20min for the acts.  I will take you through the badlands, I have been there recently and can guide you in and out:
       the Literal (John Muir Trail),
       the Pragmatic (transitions of moving places, changing seasons, becoming more)
       and the Spiritual (the interior world of transformation).  
       the Intersection, securing the space within where the spirit world can intersect with all that is earthy and ordinary, and with all that is being lived out now.     

The Six Scenes

  1. The Setting: becoming aware of the underworld and the gear required to traverse it.
  2. The Summons: the call to enter or the complacency to stay.
  3. Slaying the Beast of Scarcity
  4. Silencing the Tormenting Roars of Inconsequentiality
  5. Braving the Gargoyle Pinnacles of Shame
  6. The Return

Tomorrow:  "The Day After"