I’m gonna say it. This is strange. Due to COVID-19, life is just weird. Everything is shut down. And while I welcome a break in the busyness of life, I am also conflicted because I deeply grieve the loss of life, work, plans, and normalcy for myself, family, friends and the world as a whole.
Unable to be Together
As someone who works in church ministry, the thing I miss the most is the ability to gather physically with other believers. This is felt most during this Holy Week. There is something about sharing the old story, as well it should be…
It is the Greatest Story Ever Told.
The one about Jesus entering Jerusalem in the middle of an exultant crowd that welcomed him as savior and king. They were ever so close to the truth of Jesus’ identity except that he did not meet their expectations of a violent revolution.
The old story that tells of Jesus washing the feet of his followers and sharing a meal with them, nourishing them both in body and spirit. He gave the disciples truth, in words that would not be fully understood until much later.
The story of anguished prayer in a lonely garden and sleepy followers unable to stay awake in prayer. The story of betrayal and arrest in a garden and another betrayal in a courtyard. (Luke 22)
This story tells of an innocent man, quiet in the face of unjust accusations. This leads to excruciating pain and shame, and then darkness and painful death. This story is in my opinion, the greatest story ever told. Not because an innocent man dies, but because that same man, wasn’t just a man but God who defeated sin and death (Luke 23) and rose again. He won humanity’s freedom from Satan’s oppression and the weight of sin holding us down for so long. This is the greatest story ever told because of the resurrection.
What is strange is that I am not a part of the crowd this year.
Showing love to the world right now in the midst of a pandemic means not crowding together to mark the triumphant entry on Sunday, the Thursday last supper, the gruesome cross death on Friday, or the joy-filled Sunday morning resurrection (Luke 24).
I will miss the journey through the story as a shared experience. I will miss the somber reflection of Good Friday as the crowd leaves in silence. And particularly the energy around a group of people celebrating the resurrection together. It is strange.
But then, the whole story is about the strange way God chose to save the world.
What a strange way to save the world, not with revolution or flashy displays, but in a death and a resurrection known to just a few. The strangeness of it would change the world. No human expected this to be how God would save the world from sin. And yet God himself entered into the world in a strange way, a manger in the dirt. He lived a strange life, and died in a strange way, as no one ever expected God to die. And then God returned. The strange story is what God chose to display his love for the world.
It always will be worth telling the story and celebrating the truth behind it. This year, I plan to embrace the strangeness of celebrating in a smaller setting, but perhaps it is not so strange at all. The first Resurrection day was celebrated by just a few women and disciples. The few rejoiced in the truth that their Lord had risen from the dead. And so this year, even from a distance we declare: “He is RISEN!” and I hope the response heard around the world in many, many homes is this: