Easter Sunday, COVID-19

April 8th, 2020
This article is featured in the Growing Spiritually issue of Ministry During The Pandemic

This will be an Easter Sunday like no other.

Around the world, the Gathered Community, the Church, will celebrate victory in the face of closed doors and isolation. We cannot gather, because to do so endangers the very people we would protect. We cannot share one bread, one body in the traditional ways of physical presence. Eagerly we await answers, solutions, an end to uncertainty. Just as we celebrate the death of Death, we also live in very real fear as the death toll climbs towards a yet-to-be-seen peak. In the face of closed churches, businesses, and caskets we say with fear and trembling: He is not here. He is risen.

But before we rush to celebrate Easter on our computer screens with virtual worship services, let’s pause in the vast span of Holy Week. The space between Palm Sunday and Good Friday feels more right for this time in history. When I brave the grocery store fearing the very air breathed by God’s image-bearers shopping beside me, it’s easy to stop mid-phrase.

“He is not here.”

And when I run out of resources to care for my children before the clock strikes noon, it’s easy to get stuck on those first four words.

“He is not here.”

"Submitting to Be More Vile" by Charlie Baber. Order here: bit.ly/SubmittingToBeMoreVile

This Holy Week really brings with it the weight of things gone wrong. We cannot celebrate over a meal together in our Sunday best. Children cannot gather to hunt for plastic eggs in the lawn. The overwhelming fragrance of Easter lilies in the sanctuary will go unsmelled this year. We will certainly feel grief over loss. But perhaps the change in venue and the stripping away of familiar traditions will bring us to a new understanding.

“He is not here. He is risen.”

Where are you finding Christ in surprising ways? Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. And the risen presence of Christ is most certainly with us by the Advocate and Comforter…the Great Holy Spirit who intercedes when we don’t even know how to pray. The loss of our routines and traditions gives us the opportunity to discover how Christ is alive in spite of them. In the boundless energy of my six-year-old son who so clearly just wants to play with friends. And in the pages filled with creative drawing from my nine-year-old daughter. And in the mother bird nested on my patio, who feeds and protects her chicks from me every time I step outside. The full moon that I got to watch slowly rise while I remembered how we too reflect back the light of the Son. Meaningful conversations over the phone with people who really just called to say “I love you.”

Whenever you find yourself lamenting… it’s okay. We need not skip ahead to victory in the midst of our grief. It’s okay to sit with those four words for a bit…to feel the weight of them. In fact, Holy Week begs you to sit with them. Remember the death of Christ. The loss of life. The pain of uncertainty. Mourn with his disciples over the invisible forces moving beyond anyone’s control. To say, “He is not here. He is risen.” is not to make light of grief. It is to acknowledge that we can grieve even as the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. May the Lord bless you and keep you this Holy Week and Easter. I’d love to hear how you’re discovering new depths from the Good News.

Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.

Easter Sunday, COVID-19 originally appeared at Wesley Bros. Reprinted with permission.

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