With many countries around the world enforcing lockdowns due to the coronavirus, Easter is going to feel very different this year. And it is okay to feel sad about that. But that’s no reason to press pause on the miracle of Easter…
Tearfund’s Rachael Adams explores how we can process this loss and move forward to embrace a new way of remembering and celebrating Jesus’ life and resurrection. And how – even in the midst of a lockdown – we can still share this amazing truth with others.
Happy first Easter
I remember the first time I celebrated Easter. It was six years ago, but it feels like yesterday. I was studying in Florida on a year abroad, and had given my life to Jesus only a few weeks before Easter Sunday.
Public transport where I was living was unreliable and I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the Good Friday evening service at church. Thankfully, a friend drove all the way across town so I could join in. It was candlelit and breathtaking in its sombre simplicity. I cried while taking communion.
On Sunday, the church gathered again for a bring and share breakfast before the service. Out on the verandah that wrapped itself around the building, everyone feasted together. Children ran and played. Laughter was the loudest noise and everything was baked in glorious sunlight. All that before we came to worship together.
Two weeks later I got baptised.
Why am I sharing this? Since coming back to the UK, Easter has always been my favourite time of year. And this year was no different. I’d been planning, with my pastors, the different services we were going to hold, ways we could involve the young people, and praying that all those who came would meet Jesus. But all of these plans have now changed. And it has been hard to know what to do with that.
But in the Easter story itself, we can find that we’re in good company. That a few thousand years ago, there was a group of people who, similar to us, found it hard to accept the new…
Friend to Christ
Jesus’ disciples and followers enjoyed years of his teaching and friendship. Being in close company with him, they shared the everyday together – meals, laughter, frustrations and fears.
To see not only their leader but their friend on the cross must have been devastating. The thorns in his crown piercing his head. Nails driven into his hands and feet. Dehydrated. Scared. Alone.
‘And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).’(Mark 15:34)
When Jesus rose again it must have set alight so many different emotions for his followers. Delight, astonishment and joy certainly. The scriptures had been fulfilled – Jesus had conquered death and risen again! But they must have felt a sense of sadness too.
When Jesus came back, it wasn’t to pick up his old lifestyle and friendships. Once he ascended, there would be no more boat trips and walks together. No more sharing a meal over a campfire. Jesus was going to be with the Father, and that meant grieving again for the friend they had lost.
Take it from Mary
Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus in his new body – after first mistaking him for the gardener, that is. But even when he revealed himself to her, she still wasn’t able to go to him as she would’ve liked to.
‘Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ (John 20:17 ESV).
In his book, Holy Longing, Ron Rolheiser writes about how Mary may have been feeling upon seeing Jesus again: