I expect that Easter 2020 will be like none I’ve ever experienced nor like any I am likely to experience again. There is a global pandemic in progress, people. And, it has changed just about everything.
There will be no overnight guests in our guest room. We will not tumble out of bed when it’s still dark, bundling up in warm coats to wear to Sunrise services. We won’t sing together with our family and friends as we look toward the Pacific ocean as the sun rises behind us and our Pastor gives the Easter message. We will not be hugging our friends and loved ones as the crowd disperses. Neither will we then drive to Norm’s for breakfast. There will be no need to rush home to hide eggs in the backyard for there will be no children arriving to find them. There will not be massive quantities of food in the kitchen, nor will the table be set beautifully, because our annual brunch won’t be happening.
I confess, I’m going to miss all that–the tradition of it all, but, especially all those faces I love. I must also admit I have never been more excited about Resurrection Sunday. I have never felt so at peace, so thankful or so full. With “Safer at Home” orders now entering week three and another five potentially ahead of us, we are learning to live a life far quieter than we ever imagined we would or could.
The results have been oddly wonderful. We are retired and don’t have places we need to be or assignments we are expected to complete. We have no debt. Our biggest challenge has been to stay at home with the exception of essential outings such as the market for food. We are not prisoners but, we are confined for the common good.
In the midst of all these changes, our local church has been incredibly pro-active in rising to the occasion. We’ve been blessed to wake-up to video messages from members of our pastoral staff nearly every day. These brief videos have encouraged us with scriptural principles that have beautifully set the tone for us as we begin another day in the great unknown.
My Wednesday morning Bible Study still meets via Zoom as does my Bible Study Fellowship group on Monday evenings. The husband’s Saturday morning study also meets online. What a blessing online meeting sites have proven to be in the midst of these often alarming times.
In our “new normal” we livestream church services on Sunday morning, usually with me still in my jammies, both of us with coffee in hand as we watch on an ipad. We sing along with the worship team, read scripture and listen to a teaching from one of our teaching pastors. We take communion with saltines and grape juice. There’s something new and special about it. There is great intention surrounding our virtual gathering together. No one is dressing to impress, but showing up to receive His blessing. It sounds strange, but, it’s been strangely beautiful.
In addition to online opportunities, we’ve been encouraged to spend at least one hour a day in prayer and in reading the scriptures as we approached Easter. We were given a goal of reading the entire New Testament in 21 days. I cannot tell you what a powerful experience this has been for us to sit together, reading aloud to each another and discussing not only what we’ve read, but how we can apply it to our daily lives.
CONFESSION: We have never before consistently done this together. This is a great big deal. Something of a miracle, if you ask me.
As a result of this daily time, we’ve had some incredibly rich conversations and have been able to unite in prayer, every morning for those we love, for those in authority over us to be wise, for those enduring great suffering, those who are grieving, those who are tirelessly serving in the midst of this pandemic and for revival to come to our world. Big prayers indeed.
Through the reading of God’s word, we have read four accounts of the events leading up to the resurrection by four different men God ordained to write the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, a tax collector who became a disciple of Jesus; John Mark, who travelled with the Apostle Paul; Luke, a Greek , gentile physician; and John, the apostle. Each wrote from their own unique perspective and each touched our hearts and minds. Did we finish our assigned reading? Not yet. But, it’s okay. We have read through the four Gospels as well as the book of Acts; essentially half of the New Testament. We will continue to read with a greater desire to put our increased knowledge to work in our daily lives.
As we came to the end of John, once again reading of the events leading to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, we were deeply moved by His sacrifice, His willingness to drink the bitter cup before Him, to desire to be spared but ultimately choosing to do the Father’s will in order to save us from the penalty of sin. He was without sin, yet He paid the debt we owed but couldn’t afford, so that we could live victoriously and eternally. This is the glorious, good news.
This is news so good that there is no anxiety in our home or in our hearts, but instead excitement about how God is moving in our lives and in the world around us. While there are most certainly tragic and often unsettling events to deal with in our extended family, in the lives of our friends and throughout the world that we are deeply concerned about, we praise God in the midst of it. He is using this time to turn our hearts toward Him, having stripped away all the appointments , the projects, the events, the places to go and the people to see. He has virtually sat us down and called us to attention if we will but have ears to hear and eyes to see. We’ve been given this moment in time to sit at His feet, to take in His word and to prepare for the glorious resurrection day celebration before us.
We all serve someone or something. Money. Fame. Accomplishments. Education. Career. Vanity. We all get to choose. But would you not consider the one who chose you, before you were formed in your mother’s womb? The one who gave His very life so that you could be accepted by your very creator? The one who knows every bad thing you’ve ever done and still loves you? The one who was without sin, but died for yours, was buried and rose again. That’s someone worth serving.
“Choose you today, whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15
“Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
He is Risen.
Risen for You.
REJOICE and be glad!
P.S. Everything’s gonna be okay. I read the end of the book. You should, too.