I fully expect to see many Grinch-like monologues (https://youtu.be/hqOOUJFv1n0) in the next couple of weeks about how Easter will come whether or not there are people in churches and if there are no trumpets. And of course, they will be correct. Easter can’t be canceled.
However, Easter and all of Holy Week starting on April 5th with Palm Sunday will be different and it is going to be okay.
The question is really this: Why does Easter matter?
We’ve layered Easter with all kinds of traditions and religious and secular rites (from sunrise services to easter egg hunts), but the truth is Easter is an after-funeral clean up party. No matter which gospel you read one or more women are making their way to Jesus’ tomb to finish the burial arrangements that couldn’t happen before the Sabbath came. The world is dark and scary, tears stain their faces, and the future is uncertain. It is into such a world–our world–God raises Christ from the dead.
I’ve always loved the way Fredrick Buechner writes about resurrection. He says, “The worst isn’t the last thing about the world. It’s the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It’s the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.”
Paul says it slightly differently, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). In other words, God doesn’t wait for the world to be perfect for God to show up. God doesn’t wait for the pandemics to be over. Or for you to have mastered meeting over Zoom. Or for you to feel secure about the future. Into a broken and weary world–this world, our world–God’s love refuses to stay beaten down and dead. There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Easter isn’t canceled–thank God–because we are given reminders every day why we need Easter right now.
I don’t think Christians and non-Christians alike have ever lived through a more Lent-like Lent than where we find ourselves in 2020. So when the pandemic ebbs…and it will…and the “shelter in place” orders rescind…and they will; then we will all be ready for Easter. No matter the date, it will be Easter because we will all feel in our bones resurrection.