Easter is coming and it still brings just as much hope to the world as it ever has.
I hope you don’t mind that I start this podcast with a bit of crass humor.
Earlier this week, a friend emailed me some thoughts about doing Holy Week in the midst of a pandemic. While some of this language is a bit off-color, it’s also, well, biblical. Here is what she wrote to me, saying “Do you think this is clear enough?”:
As we approach Palm Sunday, let us be reminded that Jesus sent two disciples
to the village to untie an ass and bring it to him. In the midst of COVID-19 this
week, unless Jesus himself makes the request, keep your ass at home!!!
We all need a little laughter. There is a heavy burden attached to everything these days. Death and disease loom large on our horizons, hastening a hopelessness and a drudgery that is wearying and weighty.
Easter is coming, but we are not. We are all staying home. All the things that make this week our holiest – marked by the journey from Palm Sunday and into Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and through Easter – will be poorly approximated by whatever we agree to do with each other online.
It will have meaning.
It will have spiritual integrity.
It will enlist some of the most creative thinking many of have seen in a long time.
It will delight us, make us grateful for the beauty in the simple, and have us celebrating even the most humble effort to span the social distances we are maintaining to gather with each other virtually.
But we will all miss something: the parade of palms, the washing of the feet, the emptying of the sanctuary, the cross draped in purple, the silence of the tomb, the lighting of the candle, the joy of that first Hallelujah, the thrill of that first Hymn of exuberance, the chanting with one voice ‘He is risen! He is risen, indeed!’ the blare of the trumpet, the joy of the children in pursuit of colored eggs, the bonnets and the bow ties.
All either absent or delayed.
However, at some point this will occur to us: from the grave he arose.
Say it again with me: from the grave he arose.
And he did it without fanfare, trumpet sound, choir, candle, egg hunt, audience, or anthem.
From the grave he arose.
And our Easter joy, the very bedrock of our faith, cannot be extinguished. It has endured war and famine and injustice and poverty and disease and disdain and neglect and apathy and heresy and arrogance and doubt and, well, and pandemic.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
So, gentle listener, wherever you locate yourself this week – Easter will come. Easter will come and we will all thrill at its arrival no matter how it comes. It will reorient us all in a world of disaster and disease as we journey together Into the Mystic.