1 Peter 5:7-10 New International Version (NIV)
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Sunday as we left LaFayette Laura asked me – “Clay, what do you think, will we be able to have Easter Services?”
My response was “I don’t know if we will be able to gather back together by then or not. But I hope so.”
That short conversation has stuck in my mind since then. I still don’t have a good answer, as my crystal ball is out of order
What I do know is that we are living in the midst of real uncertainty when an object smaller than a cell is now dictating much of our everyday life. Of course, all of life is uncertain and tomorrow in this world is never promised but Covid–19 now makes us acutely aware of that reality.
What the conversation did allow me to think about was that very first Easter when the disciples were in isolation from the world out of fear. They had socially distanced themselves from society because they were afraid that they too would be put to death.
Their fear was justified—the idea that they would be arrested, tried in a kangaroo court and executed was a very real possibility. While they could see the enemy, the unknown mystery of when or if it would happen led them to hide. It was the practical and safest course of action. They were worried about the future and unsure of anything Jesus had promised. They lacked faith so they hid.
It took meeting the risen Lord for them to exit their self-imposed isolation and share the good news with the world.
We are blessed to have met Jesus and, unlike those first disciples, to know how the story ends—with death conquered and promises that nothing will separate us from the love of God.
Yet I will be honest. There have been times I have hidden my faith. I have worried about how I might be perceived—you know as one of “those crazy religious folks.” Or I chose not to speak out against injustice or truly care for my friends and neighbors (I do not even want to think about how I have at times treated strangers and enemies.) I have social distanced myself from Jesus instead of holding his hand through good times and struggles.
However, the Good news is that Christ forgives even our lack of faith. He showed us this by letting Thomas who doubted touch his wounds, he did it by letting Peter who denied him 3 times have the opportunity to proclaim his love for him 3 times. He even called Paul, an enemy of the church, to be perhaps its most famous missionary.
Thus, even when we proclaim we believe, and then act in ways that show our unbelief, Christ still loves us.
So, while this Easter will be different for much of the world and possibly for us, the truth is every day of our life can and should be an Easter celebration, because Christ has changed both the world and our very lives.
So regardless of how long we are asked to be apart, we can share the good news we have discovered in Jesus Christ by how we live. Sharing words of encouragement. Seeking new ways to give to others. Looking for ways to express joy even in times of despair. And proclaiming the Good News that Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed…perhaps from our front porch or email or social media or phone calls if we cannot do it in person.