It’s Holy Week. This one is much different than the rest, at least the ones that I have experienced. We are in a time where fears need to be acknowledged and thankfully God’s Word doesn’t make us wait to receive the Gospel.
We are all struggling with the idea that we won’t be together on Easter. It’s real grief, but this sentiment reminded me that the first Easter was also observed separately by the followers of Jesus.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”John 20:19 (NIV)
The disciples were fearful. They were fearful of those who had carried out these acts against Jesus. They were his followers and had risked their lives to be associated with him. Now he was dead. What was going to happen now?
Just a few days before this, they were celebrating Jesus on Palm Sunday, listening to him teach in the temple, and then they fell asleep in the garden while Jesus prayed. The next thing they know, he had been arrested! In just a few hours, they went from having their feet washed to denying that they even knew their Rabbi, who had taught them for three years!
While the fear we are facing in our world today may not compare, it certainly is a scary time for us. We have to stay home, and when we go out for groceries or medicine, we have to wear masks. In a matter of weeks, our routines have been turned upside down. We are fearful of a virus we can’t see, but that is killing tens of thousands of people around the world.
One thing we have in common with the disciples is that we will be in our homes this Easter Sunday. We will be experiencing uncertainty about when we will get to gather again as a family of believers. We will even wonder how many of us will survive this event.
But the difference for us? We have an Easter perspective. The disciples didn’t know about the resurrection until Jesus appeared to them. Today, on this Good Friday, we know Jesus lives and will be able to celebrate that in worship this weekend.
Two lines of this song, from my Holy Week devotion play over and over in my head today.
“Death is all around us, we are not afraid.excerpted from “This Dust” by Kip Fox
Written is the story, empty is the grave.”
People are dying. They were dying even before this pandemic. And people will continue to die. Death is a part of life. But look, the story has already been written and carried out. We know the ending!
Worship will look very different and it’s ok to grieve what we will miss. But the joy that we have in our Risen Lord is something we can shout from our rooftops (quite literally this year!) as we watch a live stream worship led by faithful servants. We don’t have to be quiet and hide, for fear of being found out, because we have already received the gift of salvation and the freedom to live as children of God!
Will fear still try and hold us down today, tomorrow and even beyond our Easter Celebration? Yes, but God promises to be with us and to guide us through that fear to share his message of love. Every day we can celebrate the joy of the resurrection. Every day we have a LIVING Savior that promises us eternal life!
“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”Matthew 28:8 (NIV)