Celebrating Easter in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic
This past Easter Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord. For some, this was a difficult thing to do. “How do we celebrate while so much death is going on all around us?” “How can we rejoice when there is so much fear and anxiety?” As I read through the story last week, it struck me that the Easter story is itself filled with fear. The disciples are constantly described as being afraid or responding in fear. The authorities are driven by fear and do the unthinkable. Even the women who first encounter the risen Jesus are afraid. Death – obviously – is a huge part of this story. Suffering, pain, abandonment, tragedy… check. They are all important parts of this story.
Easter is the story of God’s response to this whole big mess that we are in. As we read further through the story in Acts, we see that the world does not change all that much. It is still filled with powerful people hurting those who are vulnerable. It is still filled with suffering, disease, injustice, and death. Just like it is today. God did not come to make a paradise here on earth. Rather God came to redeem us, God’s people. To transform us so that we could lead grace filled lives. The big post resurrection changes we see in the Bible were not in the structure of the world but instead in the character of the people who followed Jesus. Lives transformed with Resurrection power so that they shine in the middle of a dark and broken world. This brings us much hope because, though our lives are full of sorrow and pain, sickness and unwanted diagnoses, death and betrayal, Jesus’ death brings us hope in this messy life. Hope because we are not supposed to be experiencing a life without suffering. Instead our lives are meant to be a road to help others to connect with Jesus and receive the hope and salvation that we have.
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can boldly proclaim the truth that Paul proclaims in Romans: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (8:18). We have a hope awaiting us in heaven that infinitely outshines the suffering and pain that we might experience here. The resurrection of Jesus confirms hope for us.
So we rejoice! We rejoice because we are confident that what is happening now is the world around us is not all that there is to life. Here is a great quote that I heard recently. “In Easter morning, the Christian community, with its great and beautiful diversity in cultures, traditions and languages, affirms that Life is stronger than death. Christ, who shared our human condition through moments of injustice and suffering, is risen from death by God, his Father and giver of all life, growth and existence. And we believe that “he lives forever!” He comes to us in this moment of anguish and pain; He comes to heal the sick and bring new life to those who are in the darkness of loneliness, exhaustion and despair. Life will prevail over death once again (Bruno Marie Duffé)”
Jesus Has Risen! He Has Risen Indeed Alleluia!