For 13 April 2020: Easter Monday
Read: Luke 24:13-35
I’ve heard many people say that this is an Easter for the record books. They are, of course, correct especially in naming the current circumstances in which we all find ourselves. I would have never imagined an Easter without all the cultural trappings: churches full to overflowing, flowers, new clothes, large meals with family and friends, children chasing after Easter eggs in the yard, and all the rest which goes with our celebrations of Easter. The first Easter, however, was not a time of celebration. It was a time of bewilderment and unknowing. This Easter is very much like the first Easter with bewilderment and unknowing as well.
The wind this morning took the warmth off my mug of tea very quickly or maybe my hands were just that cold – they absorbed all the heat. Whatever the case, the chill wind drove me to shelter back inside. I needed to be where I was protected from the wind. The trees are dancing with the wind, and it is still Easter. The wind of the day and the circumstances of our lives do not change the fact that Jesus’ grave was empty. Our society and our lives have all been turned upside down by the wind of a pandemic. It is still Easter; Jesus’ grave was still empty.
As God’s people, we are a people of the Resurrection. We believe that ill-winds and cultural currents do not change the foundation of our hope: Jesus’ grave was empty; God’s promise is that ours will be, too. We can still celebrate Easter even in this time when actual chill winds blow. Our faith is not halted or changed. God’s promise is not altered. Jesus’ grave is still empty.
I believe we in the United States will see many changes because of this time of sheltering-in-place. We are seeing glimpses of both the problems we have as a culture and society as well as opportunities for doing something which will improve all of our lives. I was amazed to see pictures of clear skies over Los Angeles. I was saddened to see rural children not being able to attend virtual classrooms because of a gap in technology between communities and regions. How will we respond to the challenges?
The disciples on the road to Emmaus were sad. They saw only a roadblock or a dead end. They did not see the opportunity of new life, abundant life, and eternal life. They simply couldn’t see through all the change. Jesus comes to them in that time; he opens the Scriptures to them. He helps them see the sacred text in a new way. I clearer and fresh way. Perhaps the winds blowing in our culture and society are really fresh winds of God’s Spirit. Maybe we are being invited to see and acknowledge the challenges we have as a culture and society. Maybe we are being offered glimpses of what life could be if we only engaged differently: clean air in our cities, rural children (and families) with equal access to opportunity and education, and a culture and society which does look after our vulnerable.
I know a God who works through and in spite of tragedy to stand with and alongside those who suffer. I know a God who transforms death to life. I know a God who offers opportunity for doing better rather than punishment for doing wrong. These days of Easter are a fitting time for us to look at the places In our live which need new life and rebirth. It is fitting for us to look at those same places in our neighborhoods, our communities, our congregations, and at each level of our society beyond. God is offering us opportunities during this COVID-19 pandemic. I hope we come out of our “shelter-in-place” orders with a resolve to find new and better response to the on-going struggles and challenges of our lives, our communities, our culture, and our society.