Easter 5: Stop following me.

Image by Stewart Gunn from Pixabay

When we were in Sarasota, I found a wonderful classical guitar teacher. We met him when he was playing a concert in nearby Bradenton. We loved not only his playing, but how easily he taught those of us in the audience about the music he was playing.

When I started taking lessons from him, I wanted to ask many questions… who taught him, how old was he when he started, what did he practice, how long did it take him to achieve his mastery, along the way, what had challenged him and how had he met the challenges? And then, of course there is the matter of the preferred equipment: guitars, strings, nail files, supports, foot rests.

There were weeks when I hoped that we might spend an entire lesson discussing his life story and equipment preferences – especially on weeks when I feared I would not play the new piece well.

Fortunately, we both knew that the purpose of our lesson time was not for demonstrating his deep knowledge of music history, theory and technique. It was for developing my ability to understand and play music, a process that required me to make mistakes and sometimes to play, well, badly.

When we find a good teacher, we naturally want to linger in the aura of their mastery. But if we do that – only linger in the aura – we are merely auditors, concert-goers, an audience.  We do not become students or disciples until we start trying to make the music ourselves, with our bodies, our minds and our hearts.

We remember Jesus often asking disciples to follow him, but what he says here is “Stop following me.  Become a doer, a disciple. Try to make the music yourself. It may not always sound glorious, but that’s when the learning begins.”

Easter 4: Being Good Shepherds

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

My Beloved and I are celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary this weekend. It took us a while to get married: we’ve been together nearly 20 years. Without question, they are the best twenty years of my life!

Early in our relationship, on a spring afternoon, I was walking across a crowded school courtyard when I heard something.  Someone was loudly calling “yoo-hooooo” from across the yard. I couldn’t see her at first, but I kept looking because somehow I knew it was Katherine and I knew that she was calling me.

In the first three Sundays of Easter we keep being told that the Risen Christ is difficult to recognize. The Risen Christ clearly bears no resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth.  Disciples who knew Jesus very, very well always fail to recognize the Risen Christ by sight or sound. There is always something else that clues them in: people are called by name, wounds are touched, breakfast meals are prepared, bread is broken and shared.

The Risen Christ looks different and sounds different, and even behaves differently in at least one regard:  While Jesus was always insisting that the disciples follow him — stick to his agenda and his schedule — the Risen Christ follows the disciples.  The Risen Christ is in their midst wherever THEY go, doing they are doing what THEY have decided to do… so far, fishing, fleeing, worrying and hiding.

The disciples followed Jesus, but now the Risen Christ follows them.

And the Risen Christ follows us.

Last week we were told, “Feed my sheep.” Now, we are to be the Good Shepherds.  Now we have the responsibility. We determine the agenda and we set the schedule. Then as now, fishing, fleeing, worrying and hiding won’t be enough. The needs are too great and the flock is too large.  Good to know that one way or another, in ways that are easy to see or not, the Risen Christ is following and will be there with us.