Prior to this past weekend, I had been reliving different Easter memories. Among my favorites were childhood Easter egg hunts with cousins, lunch with grandparents who are now with the Lord, and many church services with family where the resurrected Christ was celebrated. With the looming cloud of shelter in place and social distancing, I wondered how this Easter would compare. If I am honest, I did not believe it would. Perhaps you shared similar doubts. However, as Easter weekend unfolded several amazing things occurred. Some which created parallels to previous Easter experiences and others which made this one set apart in unique ways.
Let us begin with my daughter learning to ride her bike for the first time without training wheels in our parking lot of First Baptist Church. The road leading up to this moment had often been full of fears and tears, but this day seemed different. Our family ventured out Saturday morning and put all the necessary safety gear on Maggie. As I had done in previous attempts, I ran with her the first few times around the parking lot holding onto her seat to add balance. Then at some point I simply let go and ran alongside her. She did not even realize she was riding all by herself until we told her so. After that I just pushed her to get her started and we watched her go. First, she circled around the parking lot and then around the whole perimeter road of our church. We could not keep up! The family celebration that ensued when we she finally stopped warmed my heart in a special way. Within that moment, God reminded me that thisEaster too will also be about celebration, and no virus can change that.
Next was the family reading of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. We began reading it at the beginning of Holy Week and concluded on Easter eve. Within the enchanted world of Narnia, Lewis depicts the story of The Gospel through four children, a white witch, and the messianic figure of a lion named Aslan. The passion story of our Lord wasrefreshed as we read about Aslan reversing the old magic of the land once and for all by means of sacrifice and resurrection. However, the climax of the story is not the defeat of the white witch but the enthronement of the four children at the castle of Cair Paravel where they are to rule Narnia until Aslan returns one day. Within this reading I was reminded of the wonder of our own story in this year of 2020. God is still calling those redeemed by Christ to care for his world until Jesus’s eventual return. Yes, this Easter like ones before it would be one of wonder and renewal to our calling.
Lastly, was the moment of worship on Easter Sunday. We had heard of neighbors gathering in a nearby cul-de-sac early on Easter morning before our live stream for First Baptist Church began. Assured that the group was small, and we would be in acceptable distance to other participants, we decided to go and participate. There was no choir, pulpit, stained glass, or fine clothing. We were merely a small gathering of different families, seated in tailgate chairs twenty feet or so apart from one another. This was unlike any Easter experience I had ever seen, and I was curious for how this would unfold. However, as one neighbor offered a devotion, another a poem, another a prayer, another a song, it was clear that Jesus was present. He needed none of our Easter traditions to continue to reign over us and enthrall us with his glory and splendor. This you might think should be obviousto one such as myself who has committed his life to the ministry, but I like the next person need to be reminded.
As my heart reflected on that renewed knowledge, I thanked God for this Easter in all its uniqueness. God reminded me of things which will never change but also spoke to me in new ways through things never before seen. I do not know how you will reflect upon this Easter in years to come. It will no doubt be remembered forever in one way or another. My hope is it may it be amongst our favorites to recall…not because it mirrored our previous Easter experiences but because it did not and yet the living Christ was as evident as ever before. Continue in that hope in the days before us as the Easter celebration continues.