This Sunday will be the most unusual Easter we have experienced in our lifetime. We will not dress up in our spring outfits or gather with others at a church building. We will not be together with family to enjoy an Easter egg hunt with the kids or eat a lavish meal. We will not sing songs of the resurrection in the physical presence of others. Restaurants, parks, and beaches will be closed. Many of the elderly and singles will find themselves isolated and alone. Easter as we have known it will be different this year.
As churches worldwide broadcast Easter services, ten thousand of our fellow humans will die from COVID-19. One hundred thousand new cases of coronavirus will manifest across the globe. Several million more people will lose their jobs and wonder how they are going to pay the bills.
Anxiety and fear are rampant. Medical systems are stretched to the max. Medical personnel are exhausted from long days and limited breaks. Health care workers fear for their own lives and the safety of family members. Medical supplies and equipment are in short supply. Doctors and nurses grieve that despite their best efforts only 20% of their patients on respirators will live.
Some pastors are prophesying that this is the end of times; the apocalypse is here. This is God’s punishment for our sin. The world is full of darkness.
This must have been how the disciples felt on the first Good Friday. From their perspective, there was nothing good about that day. Their teacher and friend hung on a cross. They watched the Messiah writhe in pain as he suffered a torturous death. Those first followers feared for their lives. Some gave in to despair and others went into hiding.
Some years ago, Tony Campolo preached a sermon entitled “It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin’!” I encourage you to watch it. Campolo reminded us that when everything feels dark and hopeless, resurrection is on its way. Friday is a good metaphor for what we are experiencing right now. This, however, is not the end of our story.
Years from now, we will look back on this unique Easter weekend and share stories of resurrection. We will discuss breakthroughs in medicine. We will marvel at the innovations in business, churches, and government. We will recall fond memories of how the virus brought families and friends closer together. We will rejoice for the lives that were changed because of newfound faith. While there is sadness now, our sorrow will turn into joy. This is the message of Easter.