This Easter Sunday morning, as we emerge from another night’s rest, we will engage in the creative tension of things being similar and yet not the same. With Christians around the world, we will celebrate the power of life over death, even from our isolated rooms where we have spent much of the past month.
This will be an Easter to remember when, like the early disciples, we struggle with the need to shut ourselves inside because of fear of death. This year, we wrestle with how difficult it is to celebrate good news alone, knowing that, unlike the women who first came face-to-face with the empty tomb, we can’t run to tell others. In this year, many of us will adapt familiar traditions in order to have some semblance of “normal” and forge new rituals just because we must.
Below are some observations about what is different with this Easter Sunday from years past.
First, a frequent Easter ritual that you might not be aware of — Many clergy are using less allergy medicine this morning since they don’t have to worry about public speaking amid the cloud of Easter lily pollen! (Seriously, one colleague’s allergies were so bad they had to remove the stamen from the lilies before they could be brought inside the church.)
The cooks and bakers among us are preparing smaller portions, since we cannot gather with family and friends for our traditional Easter dinners. And, like our Jewish sisters and brothers, who have had to change some of their items for their Seder meals, some of the traditional foods may not appear on our dining tables this year.
And the excitement of Easter egg hunts loses its luster when you hide them for yourself. And you know you're really in trouble when you try this and can’t remember where you hid them all!
Connections to Traditions Past
But there will be much that will be relatively the same — In our home, the Hallelujah Chorus will be blasting from our CD player at the crack of dawn (and we will share this with calls to our family members who no longer live in our house). This tradition started with my father and has continued long after his death.
We will gather to worship with our community of faith — via Facebook Live. And then, perhaps will join a couple of other churches whose services start later in the morning or who post them on YouTube to view when we have time. This will be like the years during which my spouse, Dave, and I presided over two to three services every Easter Sunday morning.
The two foods we’ve decided to prepare for the two of us include a family recipe for coffee cake for breakfast and cheesy potatoes for dinner. Neither of which have significance to this holy day, other than the fact that they will ensure that we will want to take a nap about 2:00 p.m. And yes, that nap is an Easter afternoon tradition (particularly after leading — or this year virtually attending — multiple worship services)!
The Power of Life
However, as we continue to be apart from the community, from family and friends, we do have the opportunity to consider the place of the resurrection in our lives. Even during mounting death tolls and staggering numbers of new cases of COVDI-19, as Christians, we believe that the power of life can defeat death. We believe that where love is present, even our most defiant denials will be forgiven. And we believe that new life will always be an option offered to all.
In short, Easter is about hope. Hope rooted in the knowledge that tomorrow will come and present us with new opportunities to express our gratitude. Hope that encourages us to look into the unknown and trust that God will provide and lead us. Hope that demands we look beyond our own boundaries, even in the continuing conditions of social distancing, to find ways to strengthen the fabric of the community around us.
May you find ways to share the good news and celebrate new life around you. Whether through Zoom or Skype, FaceTime, phone calls, email or WhatsApp — whatever your preferred method of connection these days, may you declare that Christ is Risen! Indeed. Happy Easter.