Easter and the Coronavirus
Passover ended today, April 16, 20 20, and today President Trump announced a plan to reopen the country. I’m four days late, but I need to write about this Easter, because of the Coronavirus. Something that was so horrible made me understand Easter in a way I never could have, without it.
The Road to Easter – Passover ran from April 9 – 16, and Easter from the 9th – 13th, but it started even earlier. This photo contains a hint. It was a day way back in February. Any guesses?
Ash Wednesday was February 26, 2020. That was when we could still go to church. If you went to Ash Wednesday service, you could choose whether your pastor, minister, or priest drew an ash cross on your forehead.
I didn’t get one this year. I don’t think I’ve ever had an ash cross, probably because Wednesday was a school night, and everything was harder back when I was teaching.
Somehow after my husband and I retired we didn’t get back to Wednesday night services. Now it’s something I want to do, next year. If you’d like to read more about Ash Wednesday, here’s one source, but there are many more. https://www.christianity.com/church/church-life/what-is-ash-wednesday-why-do-christians-celebrate-it.html
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It’s the trip most Christian churches, and mine, take toward Easter. As you attend each Wednesday and Sunday service, you learn a little more about the journey Jesus took to the cross. You learn a little more about what he chose to do for you and me.
But in Ohio, and at my church, everything stopped on March 25th. That’s when our governor put the state into lockdown until April 6th, but when April came, lockdown continued, now until May 1st.
No more church services, but it didn’t stop Lent. I can still go to church on TV or online. At home I can still practice my faith. If you’d like to read more about Lent, here’s one source, but there are many more. https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/lent-101-honoring-the-sacrifice-of-jesus-1382259.html
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and it’s the beginning of Holy Week. This year it should have been on Sunday, April 5th. It wasn’t. We were under lockdown orders, across most of the country.
When my kids were little, they’d march into church, waving palms while the congregation sang, “Ride on, Ride on in Majesty.” It was another way to retell Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem, the week before he died.
Imagine – Jesus riding in on a donkey with crowds cheering, waving palms, and shouting Hosannas. Palms, to symbolize the victory over death. Hosannas, to recognize a King, an earthly one, they thought. The donkey, to symbolize a king and peace.
The donkey also fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy in Zech. 9:9 that Israel’s king would arrive, riding on a donkey. It’s hard to believe a week later the king would be dead, on a cross, but Jesus knew what lay ahead.
I skipped Palm Sunday this year. I could have watched the service on TV, but I already knew my church was redoing Holy Week. No date yet – we’ll find out soon, when we make it out of lockdown. I love getting a second chance! If you’d like to read more about Lent, here’s one source, but there are many more.
Maundy Thursday came on April 9th, but it will be on the Thursday after Palm Sunday, the new one for me.
I don’t remember Thursday services. For me it was another school night, but in Sunday School I taught my preschoolers the road to Easter, but we never connected Maundy Thursday to the Last Supper.
Imagine – the disciples sitting around a table watching Jesus break bread and pass it around. He said this is my body. Eat this in remembrance of me.
Then Jesus passed a cup around. He said this is my blood. Drink this in remembrance of me. That’s my communion service, but it came from the Last Supper.
When I take communion, I always have mixed feelings – sadness for the sacrifice Jesus made, and gratitude. Because of his choices, my sins are forgiven. If you’d like to read more about Maundy Thursday, here’s one source, but there are many more. https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/easter/what-is-maundy-thursday-5-things-christians-need-to-know.html
Good Friday came on April 10th, but it will be rescheduled, the day after Maundy Thursday. I attended one Good Friday, and years later, I still remember it. Vividly.
When Pastor finished, he left, slamming the door behind him. Not one person said a word as we shuffled outside. My kids even stayed quiet in the car, for a few minutes.
It was dramatic – reenacting the moment when Jesus was sealed inside a tomb, left for dead.
I taught that Easter story to my preschoolers. The trial where Jesus was condemned. The climb to Calvary carrying the cross. The nails that held him in place, and the darkness after his spirit was gone.
Jesus was taken to a tomb and sealed inside. If you’d like to read more about Good Friday, here’s one source, but there are many more. https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-good-friday-p2-700773
Look at the pictures above and below. This is what most people think of when they think Easter, especially if you’re not a church goer. Easter is about bunnies and chicks. It’s spring, time for baby animals.
Kids also love the stuffed animals to cuddle or the candy ones to eat. Did you catch the bunny on the right? He’s a brand-new bunny, who’s virus-ready just for you!
It’s also time for flowers like crocuses and daffodils. But the most important thing about Easter are the eggs. I dyed them as a kid, and so did my children, usually a day or two before Easter. Then they’d sit around in the refrigerator, waiting for the big day . . . Easter!
The Easter Bunny was busy all night, scattering eggs and baskets for every kid in the family. I remember those hunts. Mine were always inside. I remember the baskets, full of chocolate bunnies and eggs. If you were lucky, it held a stuffed animal, a book, or sidewalk chalk in it.
This year families did all of these things, at home. There wasn’t one community egg hunt. I’ve helped at church and at the local museum, but with the coronavirus lurking around, the hunts were all cancelled.
Without kids at home or out in the community, I felt like I was missing something, but soon my grandgirl will be old enough to become part of the holiday, and next year the community hunts will return.
Easter came on April 11th, but it was rescheduled, the Sunday after Good Friday. I haven’t missed an Easter service since I met my husband back in 1983, till now.
When my kids were little, they came dressed in their new Easter clothes. So did everyone else. Joy filled the air. Friends called, ‘Christ has risen.’ ‘He has risen indeed.’
Imagine that first Easter – the women arriving at the tomb to find it open. And empty. Angels telling them Jesus wasn’t there. He had risen. Those women waiting days for the truth. We’re lucky – we already know – he has risen indeed.
The link for the Easter story:
With the Coronavirus I missed Easter – church services, friends and family, eggs and bunnies, but I never lost Easter. Jesus still rose from the grave, and that’s the heart of Easter.
But I also discovered something – something I would have never discovered without the virus – how alone Jesus was during his Easter journey. There were people around him, but no one, not even his disciples, understood what he was going through. Now I understand that loneliness a little better.
I could be sad, but I’m grateful. This lockdown will lift, and the world will open up just like the tomb did. In John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I can never match the Son’s example, but I hope I serve the people around me. Luke 24 is the best place to read about the resurrection. For more about Easter, here’s one source, but there are many more.
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!