By Nathan Decker
“Somehow we just don’t make the same boisterous fun of Holy Week that we do of Christmas. No one plans to have a holly, jolly Easter.”
– Frederica Matthewes-Green
Except this year; this year will be different. This year many of our churches will not hold worship on Easter Sunday due to the COVID-19 virus. On the day we had planned to have lilies and tulips and crosses made out of flowers placed perfectly all over the sanctuary, many of our buildings will have a few humble souls in front of a cell phone or camera. On the day we planned to sing loudly “He Lives!” and “Up From the Grave” the halls will be far quieter. On the day our children would scurry all over our campus finding plastic eggs with partially melted chocolates or warm jelly beans, we will instead have to find eggs in our homes.
This year will be different. The date on the calendar will come and go as if it is ordinary, losing much of the extraordinary pomp and energetic joy we usually bring. And we will grieve. We will grieve as we did last year, 2019, when the church in Sri Lanka was devastatingly bombed in the middle of their Easter service. We will grieve as the whole nation did in 1865 because President Abraham Lincoln had been shot the day before Easter Sunday. We will grieve as we did on Easter Sunday in 1918 because Daylight Savings time was introduced! We will grieve because our tradition has been interrupted, our moment has been stolen and our faith has been shaken.
Except this year; this year will be different. I’ve told my congregation that Easter has not been cancelled, just postponed. The first Sunday we come back to worship in person will be an Easter we all will remember. We will remember how good it feels to share in shaking hands, hugs and showing signs of peace. We will remember the joy of children running and laughing and sharing. We will remember the smell of flowers, the awe of the sunlight in the stained glass, and the power in the opening chorus, “Christ the Lord has Risen today! Hallelujah!” We will remember that no matter what trials, temptations, brokenness, sickness, despair and death enter this world — Christ is risen victorious.
This year will be different, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Every year presents its own unique challenges, and to date — humanity by God’s grace has overcome each of them. This year will not be any different. We will overcome. We will sing. We will share of ourselves. We will proclaim the Good News. We will rise with Christ. This year will be different, and that will be where God’s amazing grace shines. Easter is not cancelled. Christ is risen. Do not be afraid: be smart, be safe and follow God. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.
“This will happen when he comes on that day to receive honor from his holy people and to be admired by everyone who has believed — and our testimony to you was believed.”
– 2 Thessalonians 1:10