Easter behind locked doors
Things are pretty scary for everyone right now and you already know why. One of the upsides of everyone being at least a little bit anxious about the same thing and worried for their loved ones is that we’re all in the same boat and there’s empathy there. Hopefully, there’s kindness too.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis means we’ve all been told to stay in our homes as much as we can. That means all our lives are different. Many people are facing unemployment or finding their jobs either threatened or entirely changed. Those of us who can work from home are facing the challenges this brings.
Those of us who aren’t able to work from home are facing new risks we never thought we’d have to face when we started our jobs. Speaking as a retail worker, I never expected political leaders to call my job ‘heroic’ when I started working in my little shop.
For many, Easter must have felt weird this year. From Easter egg hunts to meeting up with family, agape meals, walks of witness and the many church services throughout Holy Week, it’s easy to overlook how much we as Christians experience faith by being in close proximity with other people. Admittedly, it’s a little easier to maintain our church traditions and communities than it used to be, in the age of online communities, smartphones, video calling, blogs like this one and TV. My church and many others have been sharing their services on their Facebook page. Technology means that although we’re socially distant, we aren’t socially isolated.
Hopefully you were able to attend an Easter service in some way over the weekend – it has a lot to teach us in these anxious and uncertain times.
As things go, for his followers, Jesus’ death was about as bad as it could get. The disciples knew he was God, the Messiah, the person who could protect them, and when he died it must have been petrifying for them. Believing Jesus was gone forever and fearing they would be executed in the same way for following him, the disciples hid together in a locked room from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
Meanwhile, the female disciples went to Jesus’ tomb. There was a huge earthquake and an angel appeared to them, making the guards at the tomb faint in fright. The angel said:
‘Do not be afraid, I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you. So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.' (Matthew 28:5-9)
Had the women not gone looking for Jesus when they were afraid, they wouldn’t have been able to spread the news to others. In our own lives today, it’s easy to let fear and uncertainty overwhelm us and we can end up hiding like the disciples or fainting like the soldiers. But when we have the courage to look for Jesus, we can find miracles. And Jesus finds us too, wherever we are. Even locked away in that room, he found the disciples and spoke to them. It’s comforting to know that even when we’re locked away and feeling isolated, God will come and find us.
Finally, the Easter story tells us that difficult times are temporary. For the disciples waiting on Easter Saturday, it must have felt like the worst of all the worst-case scenarios, but it wasn’t like that forever. Hope was just around the corner. I know it may not feel like it, but even by the worst predictions, the pandemic isn’t going to last forever. We may be in the middle of what feels like a long and unpredictable Easter Saturday right now, but there is the hope that Easter Sunday is coming.