A few weeks ago, when I pulled out our family’s Easter decorations, it hit me that these items would be the only spring decor the kids would see this year: due to social distancing and Shelter in Place restrictions, they aren’t seeing much of anything beyond the perimeter of our neighborhood this spring. My heart sank as I displayed last year’s Easter Bunny picture, knowing that this would be the first year we wouldn’t get a picture of Charleston with Mr. Bunny, and that we will have to wait until next spring (Lord willing!) for the twins’ first Easter Bunny pics.
Everything about this Easter season has looked different. Last Sunday, instead of participating in the city-wide egg hunt we attend every Palm Sunday, we colored pictures of Easter eggs that we hid around our house. And while we are preparing for our annual visit from the Easter Bunny tomorrow night, followed by a Sunday morning egg hunt at home, we won’t spend Easter afternoon chasing the kids around my in-laws’ yard with confetti eggs. It’s another beloved tradition that has been laid aside for the time being.
Of these many small losses and cancelations, the saddest will undoubtedly be Easter morning when we worship Christ’s resurrection, pajama-clad and from the confines of our living room, instead of surrounded by our church community, all wearing our Sunday best. In this time of fear, sickness, and endless unknowns, there are certainly bigger things to be grieving, but these losses have been front of mind this Easter week.
And yet. . .
I remember that the first Easter also took place during a time of fear and uncertainty. Jesus’ followers—who had hailed him as Messiah and King just one week before—were reeling after witnessing the unfathomable crucifixion of their Lord. They spent that first Easter morning hiding in their houses, terrified of the fate that lay ahead for them and doubting everything they had once held true. The world was a frightening place; all hope was lost; their livelihood and even their lives were on the line, and they didn’t know where to turn for answers or hope.
But then, there was Easter morning. Just when the world was at its darkest and it seemed the enemy had won, Jesus appeared. His resurrected body was proof that sin had been conquered. Death would not prevail. Life and light and hope had NOT been vanquished, but had triumphed in an unexpected and magnificent victory. Love had come from Heaven to rescue the world, once and for all.
Through Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection, God ushered in something entirely new on that very first Easter Sunday. And I believe that Easter of 2020 could mark yet another new beginning for the Church. With the commercial layers of Easter stripped away, this is a moment for His love and truth to take center stage. In this time of questions, Jesus provides answers; and thanks to the miracle of modern technology, the Gospel can be streamed into millions of living rooms this Easter. I have no doubt many will be truly tuning in to the truth for the very first time.
This Easter doesn’t have the trimmings we are accustomed to, but light can still shine. Jesus is still triumphant. Our current circumstances may seem precarious, but we can have confidence that the King of the Universe—a King who demonstrated His love by laying down His own life for us—still holds us in His hands. He is not worried about what lies ahead. He has resurrected us from our sin, and He is our source of eternal hope—this Easter, and every day of the year.