…Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”…The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. John 20:19,20
Never, in my eight decades of life on this haunted, beautiful planet, have I seen a stranger one. Never, since the very first one, perhaps, has there been such opposition to our Easter joy. This virus from hell threatening death and destruction on every hand. Social distancing. Schools closed. Stores closed. Churches closed. Even a snowstorm.
Never did I imagine I’d sit in front of my computer screen on Sunday morning in my jammies with coffee cup in hand and call it “church.” I wept when the first hymn was played, wept in longing for my church family and the services we had shared. My heart wailed with the ancient Israelites as they were led into exile:
“How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalms 137:4)
I gulped down my tears, watched the service and felt my spirit lift a little.
Our celebration which followed was small, quiet, but blessed. Somehow, in a way so subtle I almost didn’t recognize it, Jesus was there. Not physically, of course, as He’d been with the first disciples, but in His spirit of joy and faith. He came through our locked doors of fear, doubt, sorrow, anger, uncertainty. For those with ears to hear, He whispered,
“Shalom, dear ones. Be at peace. Remember: I am the resurrection and the life. See? I am with you…and I have conquered the world.”
My faith took a shuddering breath and stood back on its feet.
What was I thinking? Like Christmas, Easter is something God does. It’s His thing or it means nothing at all. I don’t, I can’t “make it happen.”
For this year Easter was not about “bunnies and bonnets,” as one writer put it, but all about Jesus and His resurrection, His promise of eternal life and the peace that promise brings us–“the peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)
“We have this hope as the anchor for the soul,” wrote the author of Hebrews, “firm and secure.” (6:19) This year, I found that anchor holds, no matter what storms rage around it.
Stasi Eldredge writes, “God…laughs at the sneers of the enemy, stares suffering in the face, and proclaims with fierce love, ‘You do not have the final word.’”
How could I have forgotten? I’ve read the last page of the Book…and God wins!
FATHER GOD: Where are the words to thank You for the gift of the resurrection? Help us cling to the promise of Easter, the hope that anchors our soul. Give us strength, give us endurance, give us faith. Amen.
To be published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” April 26, 2020.