Resurrection Sunday is supposed to be the highlight of the year. And yet, like so many others, I spent it alone. That is, I was with my wife. Our children are grown, so we were alone. Before Easter, I had heard a great many saying that this was no different than the first Easter when the disciples were locked up in a room and then Jesus came to them. So also, we would be locked up in our houses or apartments, but Jesus would surely be among us.
Well, for sure! Jesus is always among us. He has not forsaken us. The promises and truths that rise from the empty tomb are true. Furthermore, we need set times of the year in which we remember, rejoice, worship and proclaim. In that sense, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday remained a powerful reminder of the centrepiece of the Christian faith.
But I learned several things from the strangest Easter of my life. First, I learned that worship works best when surrounded by believers. I wanted to sing the songs of the triumph of my Saviour in a room filled with passionate believing people. I was reminded that solitary Christianity is not what God has designed. The role of the church in celebration is God-ordained. The absence of fellowship feels hollow.
Second, I learned how dependent I am on the preaching of the gospel. I was reminded of the powerful truth found in 1 Corinthians 1:21. There Paul writes that “it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” Yes, preaching is a kind of folly. Speeches given in public places. But oh, when they expound the text of God’s word, how the Holy Spirit uses such human means to build the spirit.
I say this second point from personal experience. I have developed the exegetical skills to examine any text of scripture for myself. But God has ordained that His gospel should go forward through the preaching of the word. I found how much I longed for that this Easter.
Third, I learned that when things are not ideal, God does provide. I listened to a marvellous sermon by my pastor, given online. I then listened to Tim Keller, along with several others. I meditated on several poems on the glory of the cross. I found that Christ was not absent.
My fourth lesson is more about the effects of the pandemic than it is about Easter. As I reflect on how quickly the world changed, I am reminded that it is folly to depend on the illusion that all things will carry on as they were before. I am reminded of the famous hymn, “Abide With Me”. One line says,
“Change and decay in all around I see. Oh, thou who changest not, abide with me.”