An Easter Opportunity
And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26, ESV)
Easter weekend is here: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, silent Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday. Along with the many losses already, COVID-19 is also stealing our traditional Easter celebrations. There will be no community gatherings at church; Easter brunch reservations at the club or favorite restaurant are cancelled. Family dinner is reserved only for those who dwell together, or alone for many.
Since normal is no longer normal, how should we, the Christian community, lean into something different when we have no other options?
Easter celebrations often get hijacked by many distractions. Sometimes Easter coincides with spring breaks and family vacations. Maybe fitting in church, brunch, and an afternoon round of golf preoccupies your thoughts? Some people have to work to make it possible for others to enjoy family celebrations.
While our healthcare professionals are on the frontlines helping the sick, the majority of us are quarantined at home. We will have our online services (thank you, pastors and tech teams), but it won’t feel the same. In his book Simply Jesus,N.T. Wright poses a question that I suggest we ponder during this unusual weekend: “Do I really believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be?”
Wright says, “The Jesus we might discover if we really looked!—is larger, more disturbing, more urgent than we—than the church!—had ever imagined.” Read that a few times over and let it marinate into your mind and heart.
I wonder how often we go through the motions and reduce Jesus down to a vending machine item we select to satisfy a once-a-week (or once-a-year) craving? We put in our money, push the Jesus code, and then expect a blessing to pop out for our immediate satisfaction. In our humanity, we want to be spiritually full without having to expend the energy to gather and prepare the meal.
I have approached Easter weekend with a distracted attitude way more often than I would like to admit. During my tour days, my focus was on competing. As a single woman, I have spent many Easter weekends alone or with a hardened heart. And on the rare occasion when gathered with others, I have remained emotionally distant rather than risking vulnerability—with people or with Jesus. It is really easy to go through the motions.
N.T. Wright writes:
We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself.
This not-normal Easter weekend presents us with the opportunity to focus solely on Jesus himself, without any distractions. Jesus is more than we can imagine. He is our one true King. And he loves us deeply. I am going to lean into Jesus this weekend, how about you?
April 9, 2020
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