For those of Christian faith, Easter is the most important day in the church calendar. The culmination of Holy Week and the commemoration of Christ’s triumph over death, the story of Christ’s resurrection is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and the source of faith in a life everlasting. On this Easter weekend, however, when Christians would normally gather in their churches to proclaim, “He is Risen! Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?", we will instead worship remotely from our homes.
At this time of global pandemic and especially the inability to worship at church on Easter, it would be easy to loose sight of the hope the Resurrection brings. But as believers, we must remember that belong to God in both life AND in death. Nothing can separate us!
Before he died, Jesus not only healed and comforted many in distress, but upon his departure, he promised comfort: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you – not as the world gives … do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus empathizes with our loneliness and fear. In the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for God to relieve him of his distress (his pending death) but then says, “not my will but yours be done.” Submission to God’s will is an act of trust, and it is good to lament or complain to God about injustice, about sadness, about anything that hurts – just like this virus.
The Christian faith may not answer why, but it does answer how we can get through bad times with the abundant hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. This hope gives us courage when lesser hopes fail us. "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
This Easter, may we remember the first Easter was not a grand celebration in a room full of people. It was the discovery of an empty tomb by a group of fearful women, followed by appearances of a risen Christ to fearful followers isolated in an upper room. So perhaps this Sunday, we will find in our emptiness, grief, isolation, and fear, the fullness of Christ’s loving presence more real than ever.