Easter is always an amazing day! Nothing, absolutely nothing, can change what Jesus has done. His whole life and the events of Holy Week all lead up to one amazing day! Jesus revealed that to His disciples and followers as He appeared to them! And through His Word, our God continues to share that revelation with us.
But this year for us is quite different! Safer at home. No large gatherings. No Easter worship; no special flowers, no special music, no special decorations to adorn the church. Sadly, no gathering of any kind! Not being able to sit together and rejoice hearing that message in our church homes just seems so wrong. This just can’t be happening!!!!!
Talking to my niece the other day (a first year RN)....she can’t wait till we can get together and have a big party. Life at the hospital is so stressful right now. She was so looking forward to Easter, to worship, to singing, to fellowship and to family....but all is canceled for this year!!!!!!
OR IS IT?
Our celebration of Easter coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Passover was a special holiday the Jewish nation observed remembering God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. That night of the Tenth Plague, God told his people “Be ready to move! Paint the blood of a lamb without blemish or defect on your door frames. Then the angel of death will pass over you and your home and all gathered there.” (Exodus 11-13).
On Maundy Thursday...Jesus and his disciples gathered together in that Upper Room to remember. As they celebrated the Passover, Jesus did something totally new. He said...”this is my body” and “this is my blood” “do this in remembrance of me.” Our Lord gave His disciples and the New Testament Church the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Remember these things! (Matthew 26).
Later that same night on the Mount of Olives as Jesus was wrestling in prayer with God about this “cup of suffering,” Judas and the mob show up. Our Lord is arrested, carried off...beaten and abused as Isaiah had foretold (Isaiah 53). On Good Friday, our Lord is nailed to the cross. These last hours were more than his disciples could handle. They could only run away and hide, terrified and worried what might happen to them.
What about you? Is that how you feel now? Self-isolation feels a little bit like hiding. We can’t see this virus out there...but we know it is there, and that terrifies and scares some of us, worries and frightens others of us, angers and frustrates most of us as our daily routines are all out of whack. Then to top it all off, we can’t gather for Easter...this just can’t be happening!
Did you know there is an even greater pandemic that NO ONE can escape. I know right now you are thinking, “Great, what else can go wrong now!”
We know this one. It is where the righteous wrath and judgment of our God and the love and mercy of our God meet and collide on Good Friday and are revealed in an amazing way on Easter morning. Remember Jesus! Look to Jesus on the cross...see him there, hear his words. “My God, My God, why have your forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Why did God turn His back on His one and only Son? Why did Jesus die? He was and is our Passover Lamb. He took away our sin. All of us through Jesus have forgiveness. He has changed our life, now and forever!!!! The celebration of Easter IS STILL going on. Look to Jesus and the empty tomb. See the place where he was placed. The angel’s message “He is not here; he has risen just as he said” (Matthew 28:6) is still so wondrously true!
Though our celebration may change this year, always remember God’s blessings and love endure forever. Have a blessed Easter – Look to Jesus, Easter is not canceled! It may be just more like the first one, personal and one on one. Then look forward to when we can meet again together in worship remembering all this. That is what his followers do! (Luke 24).
Pastor Larry Schwanke is pastor at St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, 910 E. High St. Since Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order, he has been appearing in videos on St. John’s Facebook page.