Easter weekend different this year but meaning still the same

Published 12:45 pm Sunday, April 12, 2020

We enter this Easter weekend much differently than ever before. It will be different. We will not congregate with our family and friends for a church service. There will be no frilly hats and dresses for the occasion, no Easter Egg hunts, and for most families, no Easter dinner.
But, the meaning behind what Christians celebrate, hasn’t changed.
Early on, most pastors presumed they would be preaching to cameras rather than congregations this Easter.
The first Easter found the most faithful huddled away from their congregations, hiding out with a different fear. Instead of a pandemic, the disciples were afraid of the religious and political authorities who’d crucified Jesus and were likely coming after them too. Perhaps they also feared Jesus. After all, they’d sworn never to deny or disown him, but when everything went sour, they’d scrambled and fled, leaving a small group of women to keep the faith afloat. And now Jesus was alive and walking on the earth. The disciples’ socially-distant hideout proved a bad barrier. Jesus appeared in their midst (John 20:19–21) to forgive and to bless and, a few weeks hence, to empower with his very Spirit.
It is this same Holy Spirit who has empowered Christians to serve and to love through every crisis — from pandemics to natural disasters and world wars.
We still celebrate what happened on the third day, whether in a place we go to worship, or not — that fact hasn’t changed.
There was and still is the empty tomb.
The church remains the church, online, too. Wheaton College’s Esau McCauley reminded us this week that “the church’s absence, its literal emptying, can function as a symbol of its trust in God’s ability to meet us regardless of the location. The church remains the church whether gathered or scattered.”
However, the celebration and remembrance of Easter in 2020 will forever be different.
There are many who are hospitalized, struggling for their lives. We have many working tirelessly to save those lives. Others, like local nursing home residents, have been in lockdown for over four weeks. They have been locked in and their families and friends locked out. And, we all realize it is for their safety.
The prayer of many has been that God will place a hedge of protection around our nursing homes and residents as well as the employees who take care of these precious people, and, thus far, He has.
We may not have a traditional Easter this year, but what we will have, is the full meaning of Easter, and that my friends, is something this virus cannot take away.

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