Compared to all the activities of Holy Week and Easter itself, the days following Easter can seem quiet. Historically, this first Sunday after Easter sees some of the lowest church attendance of the entire year. And yet, the days immediately following the first Easter were crucial to the disciples of Christ, as they struggled to absorb all that had happened and reframe all that they knew in the new context of the Resurrection. Because we know the entire story, it may be hard for us to fully comprehend the paradigm shift for His followers in those first few days. They thought they had understood Jesus’ mission and all it meant to follow Him, but everything took on new scope and power as they came to understand the truth of the Resurrection.

From the beginning of those forty amazing days between Easter and the Ascension, Jesus impressed on His followers that they did not have much time together. He told Mary in the garden, “Do not hold on to me,” sending her to tell the others that He had risen and there was much to be done before He returned to the Father.

In the afterglow of Easter, we may be inclined to rest on the assurance of the Resurrection. But if we truly believe in the miracle, we know it is just the beginning. We hold on to the promise of the Resurrection not merely through praise and thanksgiving, but being His disciples here and now. We cannot leave our hearts and minds in a spiritual upper room, waiting for the Lord to return; we must be His hands and heart in the world, reaching out to those in need, those who do not know Him and those who have lost Him.

In the forty days of Lent, we honor the sacrifice of Jesus. In these forty days as we approach Ascension Day, let us honor the work of Jesus. Let us hold on to Him by embracing His people, by putting new hearts in His hands, by living our lives for Him.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

James 2:14-17