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.
Happy, happy Easter!!