For all of us, not being able to meet physically and worship, sing, pray and listen to God’s Word together or to share the Peace and Communion together with one another at this most important time of the year is really hard. Celebrating Easter will not be the same without our brothers and sisters within the church family nor our biological families or friends. I think we will all come to Easter 2020 with a sense of loss.
However, it is important to recognise and remember that there was no great celebration at the first Easter, either. The disciples and other followers of Jesus were still reeling from the appalling events of Good Friday; the former were locked-down together in a room in fear; Peter – particularly – will have been weighed down with an awareness of just how badly he had let the Lord down. No-one seemed to understand what was happening. There seemed to be no certainties any longer and everything had been turned upside down.
One could argue that, on that basis, what we will experience this Easter is much closer to how the original played out.
And yet, we live with the benefit of hindsight, provided in the Word of God, the Bible, which shows us that there is a way out of the gloom of Good Friday because it was followed by the wonderful events of Easter Day. Of course, Jesus had repeatedly told his closest friends about this, but they had simply not understood. After three days Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty and the women who first witnessed this begin a cascade of praise, which we pick up on Easter day, ‘Jesus is risen: Alleluia!’
So, yes, it’s sad that we cannot share in Easter egg hunts or bonnet parades, nor add our flowers to the Easter cross; that we cannot raise the roof of our church building singing ‘Thine be the glory!’ together with the organ thundering beneath. But the essential (and most important) truths of the festival remain: that God loved the world so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins – the innocent suffering for the guilty; that because Jesus rose again triumphant over death we too are assured of eternal life with him; and that the invitation to accept all that God has done for us in Jesus is still issued today.
So, as the prophet Joel writes (in Joel 2.21)
‘Fear not, my people; be glad now and rejoice, for he has done amazing things for you!’