This Holy Week and Easter are like nothing we’ve ever experienced. Services suspended and gatherings of 10 or more prohibited.
Normally, we seek to liturgically participate in Jesus’ journey to the Cross and beyond; but this year’s prolonged Lenten journey is shrouded in a sense of real and palpable anxiety, maybe even fear: fear of a world — and a virus — that we cannot control; a world that can become dark and deadly. But don’t despair. With a little care and compassion we’ll get by. We’ll not only survive, we’ll thrive.
First, let’s use this existential Lenten experience to become closer with God. Reflect on what Jesus must have felt, particularly in those final days when He faced death amidst dark forces. Let’s reflect on the reality of His sacrifice for us.
Let’s also offer up what we are feeling (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Don’t think it inappropriate. That’s the value of praying the Psalms. Every human emotion (even the desire for revenge — see, e.g., Psalm 137) are expressed in the Psalms. Be yourself before God; for God prizes authenticity. Let’s deepen a real, personal, and honest relationship with Jesus Christ so that our relationship with God might be all the more grace-filled and instructive for our lives.
This year we won’t be together for Easter after 40 days of Lent. We might even need to shelter-in-place for 40 more days — the equivalent in Jesus’ day of saying, “a long time.” But don’t despair. With a little care and compassion we’ll get by. We’ll not only survive, we’ll thrive.
Pray and realize that science and medical knowledge (as well as all that is derived from the gift of reason) is part of the answer to our prayers; so take prudent precautions. Listen to the advice of public health and medical experts. After all, Jesus walked among humanity as one who healed and analogized His ministry to that of the practice of medicine.
Also, maintain a sense of humor and continue to live a life of gratitude, for we will get by; we will not only survive, we’ll thrive. We know how the story ends. God in Christ is always with us, and God’s love always triumphs in the end.
Think back to the first Easter. There were no crowded churches back then. The disciples had deserted Jesus at the Cross. Still, Easter came. Love triumphed over death. By virtue of our baptism we are the Resurrection People; we share in Christ’s victory. We share in the fact that love trumps death.
We’re in this together. If we think of one another, if we prudently act to protect one another, if we really love our neighbor and are willing to sacrifice convenience to shelter-in-place, then lives will be saved and the miracle of Easter celebrated all the more; because love will have beaten death again. Be well, my friends, and may God continue to bless you and your ministries.
Rev. Mark Andrew Jones, BSG
Rector, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church — Pompano Beach