This is an Easter we will never forget. Not just because most of us are confined to our homes this year rather than crowded together in one large room. But because of what is happening in the world around us. In our lifetime, in our generation, we are part of an unprecedented global event.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic …
This is the first Easter in 700 years, since the Black Plague tore through Jerusalem in 1349 that the Holy Sepulchre— housing the traditional sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and tomb—is closed to the public. Not since the Great Depression in the 1930s will our nation experience its highest levels of unemployment in the months ahead. Not since the great wars of the last century will we collectively hold our breath as the number of deaths increase into the tens of thousands and infections continue to soar into the millions worldwide.
This is an Easter we will never forget.
But if this is an Easter we will never forget, what is it about Easter we need to remember?
We need to remember that the risen Christ first met a couple of women outside an empty tomb in a quiet garden early that first Easter morning.
We need to remember that the risen Christ met a couple of friends out walking away from the city to a small town called Emmaus.That the risen Christ appeared to Saul, and only him, on the road to Damascus.
We need to remember that is wasn’t in a large, packed room where Easter was first experienced. It wasn’t to an audience of hundreds and thousands crammed into a noisy sanctuary with trumpets sounding and voices shouting “Christ is risen!” where the resurrection first happened. We need to remember that Christianity grew not through mass media campaigns and slick marketing strategies to reach a multitude.
We need to remember that the story of Christ risen was told from one person to another, from generation to generation, until these stories were finally written down late in the first century. We need to remember that these verbal accounts and the faith that sustained them endured the plagues, world wars and social and economic upheavals of the ages.
We need to remember the resiliency and power of the message of Easter that life finds a way, through it all. And that life will find us.
The grace of Easter, the blessing of Easter, the good news of Easter is that despite our resolve, our efforts, our capacities, our ingenuity, our resources … God is resolved to find us. God’s life in Christ finds us.
Even when we come up against the limits of all our own private resources, the limits of our strength, our knowledge … life finds us.
The palm tree-like plant in my office is a miracle of new life. Over the years it was growing too tall for any room in my house. There was no more room to contain its growth. I was all out of options. And it wasn’t an outdoor plant. It would surely have died.
In my ignorance, perhaps, in my impatience and frustration, I cut it down. There was only a couple feet of trunk left in the large pot. The day of the deed, I decided to just leave the protruding stick sitting in the pot for a few days before I had time later to dump it and rip out the root ball.
To my utter surprise and shock, however, a couple of days later I noticed a green bud emerge from the side of the stem. I couldn’t believe it! So, I started watering the plant again. And, wouldn’t you believe it, another small sprig had emerged on the other side of the plant’s stem.
Life finds a way. And life finds us. When we are at the end of our resources. When we feel we can do no more.
Life finds us. In the small things. Life finds us, personally. Christ comes to us where we are, in few numbers, in small places.
This Easter, one we will never forget, we need to remember that what started small ended as big. That what starts at home ends up changing the world forever.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!