Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. John 20: 1
This is a joyous time as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It is usually a time when we gather together as churches in Northwich to celebrate what holds us together, particularly in our ‘Walk of Witness’ on Good Friday, but also in our Easter Sunday Dawn Vigil in Verdin Park. Sadly, this is not going to happen this year as we adhere to the recommendations of the Government in these unusual times.
What an amazing, but also disturbing, experience this must have been for the women who went to the tomb on that particular day after the death of Christ on the cross on the Friday. Their whole lives must have been thrown into turmoil as they tried to assimilate what had occurred. They had witnessed Christ die on the cross and now, when they came to pay final reverence to his body, they find it gone.
Life is full of the unexpected, and we are only too aware of that as we find the whole created order battling against Covid-19 with so many people affected by the virus and, tragically, so many who have died as a result. It came to mind to me that the isolation and loneliness of those who are losing the battle against this virus in hospitals, care homes and their own homes, often distant from their families, replicates the loneliness and isolation of Christ, not only on Good Friday, and within the tomb, but prior to that after Gethsemane and the show trial and condemnation. In this we can have assurance: the Jesus who died for us on the Cross in lonely isolation and in desperation, can identify with our need and current concerns – he can reach out and embrace us without ‘social-distancing’ and give us the reassurance that we so need in our human frailty. During Morning Prayer, Passion season, the Song of Lamentation states: “For the Lord will not reject forever; though he causes grief, he will have compassion, According to the abundance of his steadfast love, for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.”
And I believe in the compassion of God, through Christ. And I pray each morning that he will wipe his hand across the surface of the earth and sweep all pestilence into the abyss, gather it into the palm of his hand and cast it into the night. I believe that God loves his people and will bring it all to a rightful conclusion. But I also belief that God is using this terrible virus to redirect our thoughts and to enable us to reassess our priorities in life. I pick that up on Facebook and in Messenger comments. Think: the world has stopped – reduced industry and labour – and the skies are clear, and pollution is reduced. We are being transformed and I believe that God will use this virus to do that.
So perhaps the current situation of social-distancing and isolation is an enabling factor. It is drawing us closer to a proper understanding of Christian relationships and fellowship and enabling us to come to terms with the nature of Christian togetherness. We might miss the physical contact, the embrace, the handshake, the kiss, but we are still together in Christ.
I pray that this Easter may be a real blessing to you all as we celebrate the risen Christ and the promise of new life in Him and through Him.
Have a truly amazing Easter