Pastor Drew’s 2020 Easter Letter

Pastor Drew’s 2020 Easter Letter

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While we aren’t able to assemble, the resurrection of Jesus Christ will still be celebrated everywhere in hearts and homes. We may be apart, but we’re not alone; we may be separated, but we’re not isolated; this may be ‘bad weather,’ but we’re still together. Easter is not a location, it’s a celebration.
                  –Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, April 6, 2020

Dearest friends of Adrian First United Methodist Church,

The above quote was spoken just this week during a global online Easter Pastor Prayer Gathering I attended. It’s a reminder to all of us that we are The Church whether we meet in sanctuaries, homes, fields, or pubs. No doubt, many of us are grieving our inability to gather together in one place this Sunday to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. Nevertheless, Christ’s resurrection is TRUE and REAL, and we can celebrate it wherever we happen to be. Again, we may be apart, but we are not alone. We may be separated, but we’re not isolated! Easter is not a location, it’s a celebration!

One of our church members recently reminded me that on the original Easter morning:

  • the disciples were self-quarantined and full of fear for their lives, as the possibility of death lay outside the closed door. Sound familiar?
  • some of them had probably lost their jobs, and didn’t know what the future held. Sound familiar?
  • they were probably depressed or discouraged by what was no longer; by what was their new normal. Sound familiar?

Yes, it does sound familiar. But we know that wasn’t the end of the story. That morning the very-much-alive Jesus appeared to those in hiding! A closed and locked door could not keep Jesus out. The good news is that we can expect the risen Christ to come to us wherever we find ourselves this Easter Sunday…and any day for that matter. And Psalm 16:11 reminds us that “in [God’s] presence is total celebration!” (Common English Bible). As much as we’d love to be physically together in our sanctuary this Sunday, our greatest celebration hearkens from being in the presence of the risen Christ more than being in the presence of one another.

In a recent post, Old Testament scholar William Brown encourages us self-quarantined Christians to “make this Easter profoundly memorable by celebrating the ‘empty tomb,’ by letting our sacred gathering places remain empty as testimony that lives are being saved in doing so. The empty tomb, after all, marked the beginning of the Resurrection.”

The empty tomb represents life; it is the message that our risen Savior defeats the worse death imaginable, and lives. It is the salvation message that speaks life into our Christian faith. In the same manner, this year we will exercise our Easter faith by letting our empty church building speak to our care for true life.

Do you recall the main point of the story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”? It was that there’s no way to actually steal it, because it’s not about gifts, food, all the trimmings. It’s the same with Easter. Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection, and its significance can’t be “stolen” by the inability to worship in-person in a sanctuary.

In that spirit, please enjoy the following “poem” by Kristi Bothur…with a nod to Dr. Seuss.

How the Virus Stole Easter

Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began,
Bringing chaos and fear to all people, each land.

People were sick, hospitals full,
Doctors overwhelmed, no one in school.

As winter gave way to the promise of spring,
the virus raged on, touching peasant and king.

People hid in their homes from the enemy unseen,
They YouTubed and Zoomed, social-distanced, and cleaned.

April approached and churches were closed.
“There won’t be an Easter,” the world supposed.

“There won’t be church services, and egg hunts are out.
No reason for new dresses when we can’t go about.”

Holy Week started, as bleak as the rest.
The world was focused on masks and on tests.

“Easter can’t happen this year,” it proclaimed.
“Online and at home, it just won’t be the same.”

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the days came and went.
The virus pressed on; it just would not relent.

The world woke Sunday and nothing had changed.
The virus still menaced, the people, estranged.

“Pooh pooh to the saints,” the world was grumbling.
“They’re finding out now that no Easter is coming.

“They’re just waking up! We know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
And then all the saints will all cry boo-hoo.

“That noise,” said the world, “will be something to hear.”
So it paused and the world put a hand to its ear.

And it did hear a sound coming through all the skies.
It started down low, then it started to rise.

But the sound wasn’t depressed. Why, this sound was triumphant!
It couldn’t be so! But it grew with abundance!

The world stared around, popping its eyes.
Then it shook! What it saw was a shocking surprise!
Every saint in every nation, the tall and the small,
Was celebrating Jesus in spite of it all!

It hadn’t stopped Easter from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the world with its life quite stuck in quarantine
Stood puzzling and puzzling. “Just how can it be?”

“It came without bonnets, it came without bunnies,
It came without egg hunts, cantatas, or money.”

Then the world thought of something it hadn’t before.
“Maybe Easter,” it thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Easter, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

And what happened then? Well….the story’s not done.
What will YOU do? Will you share with that one
Or two or more people needing hope in this night?
Will you share the source of your life in this fight?

The churches are empty – but so is the tomb,
And Jesus is victor over death, doom, and gloom.

So this year at Easter, let this be our prayer,
As the virus still rages all around, everywhere.

May the world see hope when it looks at God’s people.
May the world see the church is not a building or steeple.

May the world find Faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection,
may the world find Joy in a time of dejection.

May 2020 be known as the year of survival,
But not only that – Let it start a revival.

Happy, happy Easter!!

Pastor Drew

One Comment

  1. David Guldin

    Really lightening our mood and set our priorities straight. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season.

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