by Dan Kidd
The West Wing has long been one of my favorite shows. The writing is impeccable, and the characters are rich and magnetic. And one of the catch phrases--so to speak--of the show comes from Martin Sheen playing President Bartlet who, after concluding another instance of some massive accomplishment or failure, some years'-long initiative, or weathering another crisis would simply say to his staff, "What's next?" Because, truth be told, there's always something to attend to next.
With today's passage, we conclude the Gospel of Matthew. We are now on the other side of Easter Sunday. Monday has come and gone and we are no doubt back into the normalcies of days in and days out. Christ did for us so much while it was still dark; he rose from the grave, defeating sin, death, and the devil all in the dawn of the morning--all while it was still dark. And, though we sang joyfully the anthems of Christ's resurrection victory on Sunday, we might be tempted to think those Gospel truths make too little difference in the world outside of the church walls, on the the days of the week that don't begin with Sun. In fact, we might be tempted to think that Easter isn't actually as profound, as consequential, as we treated it on Sunday.
But Matthew concludes his Gospel not only with Jesus' resurrection, but with his return to his disciples, meeting them again in Galilee (because he told them so, and Jesus is faithful to his word). There, in Galilee, the disciples saw again, with their own eyes, the risen Jesus and they fell to the ground to worship him, even as some of them still doubted him. In the authority of all of earth and all of heaven, he commissioned and empowered his disciples for the work ahead of them. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! What's next?
Because all authority was given to Christ, his disciples were sent to go and make more disciples, throughout every nation. This Gospel news was to be echoed from every corner of the earth. And they were sent to baptize new Christians, in the name of the Trinity--Father and Son and Holy Spirit. They were sent to teach these new disciples the directions in the Way of Jesus, to obey what he'd commanded of them. And what's more, they could proceed with the certainty that Jesus would continue to be with them, all the time, to the very end.
Easter has come and gone. What's next? The legacy work of these commissioned apostles. We too proceed in the certainty that the risen Christ is with us, and he continues to work his will and way even in the darkness of this now-and-not-yet age. And so, we make disciples across and among every nation of the earth, and we teach one another how to devote ourselves to Christ.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for being our risen King, worthy of all the authority in earth and heaven. We trust that you are faithful and faithfully at work making all things right again, even while it is still dark for us. We pray that you would empower us and move us to make disciples, to teach one another to follow you, and to live the abundant lives you have saved us into.