Happy Easter, 2020!
I came to faith in Christ in the fall of 1984. Holy Week of 1985 was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I went to the Maundy Thursday foot washing service at the church where I was a member. It was incredibly moving. The following afternoon, I spent time at the Good Friday prayer vigil. I went to my friend’s church that evening for another worship service. On Easter Sunday I went to both services to celebrate the risen Christ! I was excited about my faith, and I took in every opportunity I could to make that first Holy Week as meaningful as possible. Most Holy Weeks were like that, even in college. Later, when I knew the Lord was calling me into full-time ministry, Holy Week took on a more vocational (but no less personal) aspect – now I was part of helping other Christians participate in meaningful experiences during that most profound time of the year. And in both cases, as a layperson and as a pastor, there was a powerful sense of congregational connection for all of those services.
Until this year.
The Coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible to worship the way we would like during Holy Week, 2020. And though we have been blessed to be able to stream our services, it’s just not the same preaching to a room full of the same three or four people service after service. That connection simply isn’t there. 2020 will be the year we remember how different Holy Week was for all of us.
However, it is vitally important to remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not about how many times we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it’s not about which hymns we sing and when, it’s not about the Sunrise Service or the breakfast at church. Those things are important ways in which we celebrate the day, but they are not the day itself.
We read these words in 1 John 4:9,10:
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
That is the Good news: God loves us, God saves us, and God offers us eternal life through his risen Son! We may not be celebrating the way we want to, but we must absolutely celebrate, for this is the eternal gospel of God, the good news in which we place our hope!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Blessings, Pastor John