A friend shared a reflection with me that was written by a retired Christian pastor. It really touched my heart, so am sharing it here.
THE GRINCH THAT RETURNED EASTER
Sometime in the last 2000 years—Resurrection Sunday got hijacked. It got commercialized into bunnies and eggs, chocolate rabbits and “tip of the hat” church attendance. In April 2020, Easter season has renewed meaning. America is “socially distancing and quarantined at home.” TWO thousand of our fellow Americans died yesterday from a virus. Millions are out of work. Life is surreal. No magic bullet awaits in the medicine cabinet. Like a Colorado wildfire, high winds can drive a flame-up and firestorm that creates another contagion hotspot like NYC, or Detroit, or New Orleans where medical capacity is quickly overwhelmed. There are similarities between today’s chaos and the initial crucifixion week twenty centuries ago.
• Oppression by an Enemy
For the first century Jews in Palestine, it was the heartless, cruel, corrupt, brutal, unjust boot-heel of the Roman Empire. Innocents suffered; fairness and justice were in short supply. There was no recourse to discrimination and bigotry. For us, it is a lethal virus that was unknown in our vocabulary four months ago. Unseen but present for days before it surfaces—it stealthily strikes like the darkness. Though it has ravaged seniors, it is no respecter of persons as rich and poor, famous and unknown, middle aged and young are victims as well.
• Rome Killed Brutally
Jesus’ treatment began with a flogging. His ambulance ride included the dragging of the crossbar of his cross. His ICU room was equipped with three nails, a thorny crown, and a sword penetration into his heart. Most disciples had scattered fearful for their lives, but Mary along with an aunt and the apostle John were within earshot. Perhaps the cruelest reality of death by Covid-19 is that it often occurs with the patient alone—due to infection fears, separated from his family. Last contact is often through “FaceTime” or other electronic mediums. The family and the victim are robbed of the priceless experience of surrounding the loved one on a hospital bed as he passes.
• The Disposition of Bodies
Jesus’ body was claimed—not by family members, but by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (ironically both former members of a hostile Jewish council) and hastily laid on a slab of rock in a new grave, then closed with a massive stone. This was not exactly a “body bag”—but was absent the traditional wailing and mourning that was central to a Jewish funeral. Deaths are occurring so rapidly in our larger cities that remains are often stored in chilled semi-trailers until disposition can be arranged. Mandated crowd sizes of 10 persons or less make a mortuary, church facility, or even graveside service an incomplete, awkward, empty time of saying “goodbye” to the deceased.
• Fear Grips Many Survivors
The disciples headed for their hideout. Perhaps the next boots on the steps and knock on the door would come from Roman soldiers seeking their arrest. A plethora of unknowns grips our hearts as we wonder: Will I, or my family, or friends be visited by this virus? Can life ever return to normal? When will it be safe to leave my home and return to work and socialize with friends? Could this worldwide pandemic lead to global financial collapse?
We Need Help!! More help than an anti-malaria drug. More help than a three trillion-dollar American bailout package. More help than adequate respirators and PPE equipment. More help than our economy restarting. Along with Mary and John, we need to stand at the foot of the cross and hear Jesus gasp to inhale every measure of air and exhale shouting, “It is Finished.” Contemporarily translated he was pronouncing, “The Price of Sin has been Paid, and Salvation by Grace has Started!” Along with the women who had returned on Sunday morning, we need to hear the angels say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” “He is not here, He Has Risen!” Along with Mary Magdalene, we need to hear those words spoken in the garden by Jesus, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for? Along with Thomas, we need an encounter with Jesus where he says, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe.” And to fall on our knees like Thomas and proclaim, “My Lord and My God!” Easter celebration 2020 seems to have been “divinely” scheduled. Though few church buildings will have crowds this weekend, Resurrection will be celebrated in living rooms, family rooms, hospital rooms, overseas military facilities through live streaming, zoom connections, TV Broadcasts, videos, YouTube, Video recordings, etc. Most of the mediums available for broadcasting the Gospel would not have been created if the pandemic had occurred a decade earlier. God has “Made a Way!” And God is “Giving an Opportunity!”
The Grinch of Covid-19 has “Given Easter Back.” This lethal killer has made us pause from the rat-race of life to ask deep and relevant questions: Is there Life After Death?… Is there Hope and Peace for my Fear and Anxiety? … Can I trust Jesus for My Eternity? The Cross is the Hinge on the Door of History—and the Open Tomb is that Door which swings open to proclaim—as in the words of the old hymn, “Whosoever Will May Come.” This can be the BEST EASTER since John penned the words of Jesus in closing the Book of Revelation: “Yes, I am Coming Soon.” John’s agreeing benediction to close the Revelation was: “Amen, Come Lord Jesus.” Yes, Yes Indeed!! Quit seeking the Living among the Dead!
My perspective of Easter 2020, Don Needham
I Found God today in a profound way of contemplating the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.