When we gathered for the first Sunday in Lent none of us imagined we would be separated during Holy Week and Easter. On that first Sunday in March we chanted these words from the Great Litany: “From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, Good Lord, deliver us.” These words are all too real to us now.
On the fifth Sunday in Lent, Mother Amanda reminded us that it is okay to grieve the loss of social connection, to embrace the sadness of a church-less Easter, because even Jesus, the Son of God through whom all things came into being, even he wept.
I must admit I am experiencing a great deal of sadness over this church-less Easter. I live for Holy Week. It is my favorite time of the year. What is Easter without a full choir, lilies, and countless visitors? What is Easter without the Church gathered around God’s table? I am sad, but I am not without hope.
In her poem, “A Coming Alleluia,” the Reverend Erica Takacs wrote:
Did I not once prove
once for all
that there is nothing you can do,
no decision you can make
(for good or for ill)
that can stop
There is nothing, not social distancing, church closure, sadness, or even death that can stop Christ rising. Christ is alive! And though it may be hard to see now, we know that Christ is raised. His victory over death is freely shared with us and with this weary world.
In Matthew’s Gospel, as the women leave the empty tomb, Jesus appears to them and says, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my disciples to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
I have often wondered why Jesus wanted to meet his disciples in Galilee after his resurrection. Why not now, in Jerusalem? Galilee was their home. Galilee was where they first met. Galilee was where their lives were upended, where they were pulled from their fishing boats, from their farms, from their tax booths. Galilee is where this rabbi, friend, and Lord transformed their lives. Jesus is inviting them to meet him at the beginning, to go back where it all started.
This Easter, in a time of social distancing and global turmoil, Jesus is inviting us to meet him at the beginning. We are being invited to remember when we first met Jesus, when our lives were upended, when we first knew we were loved. Perhaps in going back to the beginning, in remembering where it all started for each of us, then we will be able to share the good news of Easter with our neighbors who need to hear a word of hope.
There is nothing that can stop Christ from rising. Not sadness, not fear, and certainly not COVID-19. Go back to the beginning. Meet him there. And then boldly proclaim: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Priest-in-Charge