This is Easter week! This past Sunday we looked at Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem for the last time before his death. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He was distraught by the reality that God’s chosen people had failed to recognize their Messiah. He grieved the fact that they could not accept a suffering servant (Isaiah 53) when what they wanted was a violent war with their oppressors.
The question I asked was, “What will we do with a Savior that doesn’t save us…the way we think he should?”. This is the week, 2000 years ago, when God’s people were forced to confront their expectations of rescue from exile and deal with the disappointment that this was not the rescuer they thought he was.
This year, Easter is on you. I don’t know any other way to put it. No matter what I as your pastor try to put together for Sunday morning, it won’t translate. There is no way for me to reproduce the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection that we usually have as a church…on a webcam.
That’s not to mean we can’t have meaningful worship online as we have for the past several weeks. It doesn’t mean we won’t contemplate the cross and Christ’s victory over sin and death–of course we will! But where does that leave us? What can we do to shift our expectation, tradition and nostalgia around Easter in a meaningful way in the midst of forced isolation?
We often talk about the inseparable vertical and horizontal dynamics of relationship with God and each other. This Easter, you have a rare opportunity (whether we like it or not) to celebrate Easter on the vertical plane–between you and God. Some of you will be with immediate family and you will have the chance to model personal worship with them. I can give you a few tools you may want to use. Even so, when all is said and done, Easter is on you–and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Starting with the obvious, you’re on your own. You may have immediate family with you, but you won’t be gathering with friends and extended family for a traditional dinner or celebration. In my case, we won’t be using tortillas to scoop up delicious Mexican meats and vegetables cooked outside on a plow disc at the Clampitt’s house while listening to live music. Even so, this year you have the opportunity to decide what it looks like for you–your household–to celebrate the resurrected Lord. It will be a personal celebration between you and God. This is a chance to reflect on what it means for YOU to have found a relationship with God through the grace of the Great Sacrifice.
Here are a couple things that might help you celebrate the Resurrection this year:
- Read Matthew 27 & 28 in the Message translation. https://www.biblestudytools.com/msg/matthew/ This version of the Bible is written in a conversational tone. It has a comfortable flow to it and will be different from how you typically hear the story–especially if you have been celebrating Easter for years and years.
- If you’ve got kids, make a “Resurrection” scene–like a nativity scene, but with an empty tomb and really surprised looking figures.
- Journal. Write your thoughts about Jesus’ sacrifice and its impact on your life. Express your gratitude to God for his great plan for redemption. There is something about writing that forces your mind to slow down and sort out your thoughts.
- Video chat some friends or family into a shared meal. Pray together and then just leave the camera on so you can see each other and check in along the way.
Whatever it looks like, my prayer for you is that we are all able to leverage our isolation as an opportunity to experience God more personally. I know I certainly have never had an Easter with just me and God! May God’s Spirit cover and comfort you this Easter. I look forward to the part we get to do together and I pray that each of you get a glimpse of how much God loves you and that Jesus would endure the cross and rise from the grave–even if it was just for you!