What lockdown taught us about Easter
A year ago, we faced the prospect of Easter in lockdown. It was the start of the pandemic and no one knew what to expect. Now we’re approaching that same milestone in the calendar a year on, and in the UK we're still under restrictions. But this year looks different. Is it possible that lockdown could teach us an important lesson about how to find hope this Easter?
Since the beginning of Covid’s spread, I’ve found myself drawn to Easter Saturday. This might sound like an odd day to get excited about: in the modern Christian calendar it can feel uneventful. Good Friday is all about the cross, Easter Sunday is the joy of new life, but in between there’s a day where nothing much happens. We wait for it to be over, because we know something better’s coming tomorrow.
When you don’t know how the story ends
But for the early disciples, that first Easter Saturday was very different. It didn’t come with any reassurances of a victorious ending to the story (Jesus did foretell his death and resurrection, but his followers didn’t grasp his meaning until after it had all happened). For them, it felt like they’d lost everything. They were defeated. They went home in despair.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
What does Easter Saturday mean for us?
In many ways, we’ve been living in Easter Saturday ever since last year. We haven’t known how this pandemic is going to end, and we’ve been aware of how much we’ve lost. As we approach Easter, I find myself very sympathetic towards those disciples huddled together in dejection.
And yet, the story of Easter is all about hope and new life. Let’s not forget that for Jesus’ followers, it was the biggest surprise plot twist of all time! The man they saw killed actually came back to life. The switch from despair to amazement must have been a rollercoaster of emotions!
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. (John 20:19-20)
Spoiler alert: you can find hope this Easter too!
We, of course, have the benefit of knowing the end of that story. We know that God’s unfailing love and light win out over darkness. We know that God’s heart is to rescue and redeem the people he loves so much. And therefore we have a reason to hold on to hope: hope for change, hope for joy, hope for new life and possibilities. It’s why at CAP we use the words ‘always hope’ so much. Because we’ve seen, in the bleakest of situations, that change is possible.
Over the last year, we’ve all perhaps had to work much harder to hold on to that hope. But as all nations of the UK start to move out of lockdown, and vaccinations continue to rollout, we can begin to hope that change is on the way.
After a year of Easter Saturday uncertainty, be encouraged that we can all find hope this Easter in the knowledge that the whole resurrection story is one of God’s deep love for us and the surprising turnarounds made possible when he gets involved in our lives. Whatever happens, we always hope.
What are you looking forward to this Easter? Tell us in the comments about your hopes for this year.