This is not my first rodeo. For a lot of Christians, and especially for a lot of church workers, this is the first time they’ve had to celebrate Easter without all of the traditional church activities. But it’s not my first time. It’s not even my second time with this. It IS the first time that the whole world has experienced it right alongside of me though.
The first time Easter was weird for me was in 2003. It was our first Easter after seminary, but my husband wasn’t yet serving a congregation. He was instead working as a mission developer. Many Sundays he would preach and lead worship at various churches, but not on Easter. Probably a good thing too, since our son was just stillborn shortly beforehand. We would not have had the capacity to lead through Holy Week at that time.
The second time was in 2010, we were in transition between congregations, so we spent Holy Week visiting my in-laws in Tennessee. We went to Good Friday worship at the Catholic church (neat experience on many levels, not the least of which was that the service was bilingual). Easter Sunday we went to the Methodist church with my in-laws who were members there. I found myself missing our Lutheran worship traditions that day. None of the exchanges of “Christ is risen,” “He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” They didn’t do that.
The third time was one year later, the week our daughter got sick. We were at the hospital with her instead of leading worship. Thankfully there were several retired pastors who were members of our congregation at the time, who took over leading the services.
Now it’s our fourth time with a weird Holy Week and Easter. This time, we ARE leading, but in a very different way. As I type this, I’m moderating the worship service on both Facebook and YouTube, which we pre-recorded earlier in the week. Meanwhile, my husband is outside serving communion to member families one at a time, disinfecting the table in between each household and changing gloves/washing hands to help prevent the spread of germs.
Here’s what I’ve learned over these various weird Easters. It doesn’t matter. God is still God. Jesus is still risen from the dead. It happened once, for all time. I am thankful that we mark it annually with the highest festival day of the church year, but NOT being able to mark it in the same way doesn’t change the fact that HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD. I don’t know that those of us who are life-long Christians quite grasp how significant that is. I only began to note it when we lost our children, as I mourned with Mary on Good Friday and found myself longing for the joy she felt on Easter. But think about it: Jesus was DEAD. And HE ROSE. That’s the best news, and it’s the weirdest news ever. So, if you think about it, every Easter is weird.