Every adult Christian probably has memories of Easter outfits and eggs hunts from when they were kids, and a list of traditions they carry on with their kids and grandkids. Easter probably involves sunrise service, some special breakfast, new suits or dresses, pictures with family, Easter egg hunts, and so forth. Church choirs perform cantatas and perhaps put on passion plays. We used to go to one in London, KY that was very well done.
This year was different. We’ve all made adjustments in order to social distance ourselves from others. For many that means working from home or becoming homeschool parent/teachers for the first time. For another 30 million or so Americans it has meant unemployment. Churches have found new methods and media for worshipping together virtually and anyone with internet has probably been to one or more Zoom meetings. Doing church online for a few weeks is one type of adjustment; giving up everything we have always done for Easter is another adjustment entirely.
Instead of getting up early for sunrise service and looking forward to a full house, I arrived at church by myself as I have been doing in recent weeks. I recorded my Easter sermon to upload to the church website and utilized the latest in 80’s technology to make cassette tapes for our seniors. The inclement weather would have kept us from hunting eggs or taking pictures outside. Our church has a fellowship hall in the basement which serves the community as a shelter during severe weather. So I opened up the basement around 6 pm or so last night with a couple of major storm producing fronts heading our way. I have to admit, it was nice having people in the fellowship hall. The church bought pizza, I made chili, others brought snacks and made coffee. The power blinked off a couple of times but came right back on. There was property damage and loss of life in counties just north of us but nothing major in our immediate area. Everybody went home and we closed up around 2 o’clock this morning.
No Easter baskets, bow ties on little men or pastel dresses on young ladies. No sunrise service in the cemetery, no breakfast quiche or sausage balls. No coffee and donuts before Sunday school. The Gospel message was preached across our nation and worshippers joined in via livestream and other media platforms. No family visits with Granny, no nieces and nephews in the afternoon, but I had the opportunity to open our church and literally welcome our neighbors into shelter from the storm. It was a different sort of Easter. Hopefully it will be a once in a lifetime experience. But we must be flexible and do the best we can with what we’ve got. While that’s true in all aspects of life, family, work and school, it is of utmost importance to the communities we serve that we find news ways to be the church. We must be the church outside the church walls. We have the opportunity in these unusual and unprecedented times to show the community at large that the church is God’s people and not the building.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
There were things I liked about Easter this year and lessons to be learned. I hope we learn them well and never have to do this again : – )