Easter in lockdown
Easter is the biggest party the Church has! It’s bigger than Xmas! Last year in church we set off party poppers and even had champagne in the chal-ice! Because it’s the real deal. The stone from tomb has been rolled away. There’s life where there was death. Hope comes flooding back into the world and its the best news we have ever received. There are shouts of hallelujah! ( praise God!), the church is filled with the scent of flowers and we celebrate with song and praise that Jesus is alive!
This year we could be forgiven for feeling that it’s still Holy Saturday. We are still in the grip of a terrible pandemic and don’t know when it will end. We feel threatened and vulnerable. And there is fear and uncertainty all around us. Our world has changed in a such a very short time. The future we expected -and took for granted as ours -is now unpredictable.
They say in times of crisis we go through 3 stages.
In the beginning people came forward, being helpful, rising to the chal-lenge and putting themselves at risk in order to help each other. We see this all around us and hear wonderful stories which lift our spirits and steel our resolve. And we are grateful for all that people are doing.
Then comes some bad news. Realisation of this new reality becomes clear. Someone we know or someone we didn’t expect becomes ill, is in ICU or dies. The Prime minister succumbs. Who is leading us now? What will happen? Solid ground has turned into slippery ice. Our in-come may be threatened. Our health precarious. We feel insecure and maybe disillusioned and start to doubt a good outcome. When will this end? Send us some good news- some hope!
But- eventually the end will be in sight. Deaths and infections will drop. We will hear more good stories of recovery and those snatched from what seemed like certain death. Hope will start to strengthen first in a trickle then flooding back into our hearts. We will see a new way for-ward together. New beginnings. There will be big reunions, celebra-tions, kisses and hugs.
Isn’t that like the story of Holy Week? My walk through Holy Week has been more intense in lockdown as I moved between all these three stages I’ve spoken about -Heroism (or action), disillusion (or deep sor-row) and hope (or faith).
Holy Week started with Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna!” ( Praise God!). There was an air of heroism and defiance against those who plotted his death.
Then disillusionment. It all went terribly wrong in the space of a few days. The rug was pulled from under the feet of his supporters. The darkness of Good Friday and the emptiness of Holy Saturday fell on them. Cry’s of “Hosanna!” turned to “Crucify”. It must have seemed like the end of the world to the fearful and confused disciples.
But that was Friday- and now it’s Sunday! Shouts of “Crucify” now turn to “hallelujah”, and joy, hope and life are back on the agenda. A new beginning springs from what seemed like certain death and despair.
We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song today,
It may seem like the stone rolled away from the tomb is still a rumour behind closed doors this year. When the disciples were scattered and afraid; when they locked themselves away in fear; when they felt God had forgotten them they heard that the tomb was empty. It took them some time to move from the despair of Good Friday and the emptiness of Holy Saturday to Easter joy; some time to step bravely and confi-dently into a new way of being.
Easter joy to us while still in isolation may feel more of a trickle than a mighty river in 2020. Holy Week has been intense and difficult. But I pray that when this is over the resurrection joy we will feel will equally intensely felt by us all.
But this is Sunday! We are the Easter people. While the disciples trembled life was quietly returning in the darkened tomb. Death has been defeated. Christ IS risen! Shout hallelujah!