This Sunday we celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord – with closed churches. Yet we follow the Jesus who came to bring life the Jesus who brings life.
I’m going to miss the big gathering, the brass, the lilies, my siblings in Christ joining to loudly sing one of my favorite hymns, Thine Is the Glory. I’m going to read the Facebook posts that say, “It just didn’t feel right.” And I’m going to love the posts that announce a living Jesus was seen on Easter – in virtual Easter parties, in reading the resurrection story to children, in looking at the meatloaf while seeing a ham dinner with all the trimmings and remembering the living God who provides and unites us – and, too, in a candle on a dining table as the only “friend” present, burning with the life of the present Christ. Celebrations will be small, yet our great, loving and living God will be present.
It is as it should be – this year.
We have to trust that a closed church this year proclaims our Living Lord is everywhere.
A closed church testifies to the huge needs of our world at this present moment. It allows us to focus beyond ourselves into poverty, loneliness, and disease. It makes us plan our action that will bring our living Lord into the hurt and woe.
A closed church proclaims Jesus loves the little children. Jesus does not lead little ones (or big ones or old ones) into danger. Jesus begs God’s people to avoid exposure because that’s how the Body of Christ does not expose others to a deadly virus.
A closed church proclaims Christians have other things to do in the middle of a pandemic: take extra time in quiet prayer, read The Story quietly and ponder its depths and know its life, call loved ones and lonely ones to bring God’s love near, to write checks to local groups and organizations serving the poorest and the neediest, to take a walk and see the Living Lord in budding trees and and greening grass.
A closed church proclaims that the center of God is not the splash of extravagance of one splendid hour. The center of God has left a quiet, empty tomb/sepulchre/sanctuary (2000 years ago) and stepped into a world beyond church builings in need of life. This year we proclaim a Christ who is present in ambulences, hospital wards, and semi truck morgues – in hoping and grieving hearts. Christ is present in both life today and life forever.
And a closed church today proclaims a God of abundance. We don’t trust in an overflowing Easter offering. We trust in Jesus who makes us generous to support our churches without an offering plate passing by. We don’t trust in a sunrise service for faith. We thank the One who will gather us in virtual communities online and in the mystery of a united body, an overwhelming, abundant communion of saints. We trust in our God who cannot stop giving that we might have life in the presence of the Everlating Living One.
I will miss the 2020 Easter gathering at our church. Oh, I. Will. Miss. It. But I will know my living Lord.