All you have to do is look on social media to see that Easter was a success….Church families scattered but gathered together with Christ for Easter. On social media you see families gathered to worship -not in crowds or in their church buildings! Palm branches on front doors! Instead of hats we are wearing masks. At our house we enjoyed wearing our Easter hats with our pajamas! Flowers were brought inside to make our own crosses. Church parking lots were empty! While we are used to our churches having a wonderful week starting with Maundy Thursday to the Good Friday service, Easter egg hunts and powerful services on Sunday, God showed us new and different ways to do things. All of those things are great BUT the greatest are the hearts that have been changed during this Easter season. Our hearts should still be rejoicing over the hearts that have chosen Jesus to be their Lord and Savior! The Corona Virus does not stop God! We have had church and we will have church! Even with the Corona Virus, Easter has just begun!
Plants and trees that have been dormant for winter are coming back to life. It makes sense that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of new life and rebirth! We have gone through our 40 days of Lent, studied the mountaintops and valleys of Holy Week and Easter morning! Now what?
John 20: 19-22, "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!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” I cannot imagine the lack of hope and fear that the disciples felt after the crucifixion and experiencing the empty tomb. Then Jesus comes to be with them to give them peace in place of their fear. He even showed them His scars on His hands and side. Then Jesus breathed His breath on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and go out into the world where I send you.
In the next chapter, like us, the disciples were back to business. John 21: 3-6, “So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
John 21: 15-17, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’” I think Jesus was telling them things are not over - they are just getting started! If you love me then go find my people and teach them what I have taught you. Now, even though we have social distancing, we can still “go out into the world” where He sends us. Ask God what He wants you to be doing to enrich His Kingdom now. Do you need to call someone, send a note, help someone financially, make masks, share a kind word?
As you continue your social distancing, think about what Jesus said. Easter is not over. It is not a holiday that goes up on the shelf with the wreath for next year! It is time to follow Jesus! We do not have to social distance from Him! It is about the fact that He is victorious and triumphant! As many of us say at church, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” The story of Jesus with us is eternal! When He breathed His Holy Spirit upon us He empowered us to follow Him.
For Christians Easter is a 50-day period. It is called the season of Easter or Eastertide, which begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Let us use this time to experience what it really means when we say, “Christ is risen!”
What difference has this Lenten season made in your relationship with Christ? Easter morning is the beginning of the story. Are we going to become one of Jesus’ disciples?
Are you lying dormant or are you ready to spring forth with new growth and be an Easter people?!