Dear Editor -
The past three months have been a time of frustration, a unique test of patience and…. A lot of fear as well as anger.
Many folks “couldn’t wrap their heads around” sheltering in place, avoiding another’s space, or no shaking hands. Some were so upset not being able to worship at “their” church they struck out, gathered, and in some cases; because of their determination, contravened the law. Masks have become a symbol of political persuasion. Lying has become a national pastime on radio and TV.
Believers have always rejoiced in the joy and promise of Easter and its symbolism of Resurrection and eternal life. Many families believed festive dinners were ruined because no one could travel, or they couldn’t find a Ham that was either small or not big enough, due to plant closings.
All of us can understand where the worry, confusion and anger could come from. My being a traditional type of believer squarely places me in the “I want to go and hear all the great Resurrection hymns. I want to celebrate Communion with those in fellowship as well as the Lord on the special day; and, there is no comparison to hearing “Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed!” echo throughout the church building.”
But, as Shakespeare said: “Ah, there’s the rub”.
Let’s not deny the importance of the ‘Warm Fuzzy’ Easter can bring to our emotions whether familial or spiritual. But we can never let go of what’s most important to ‘going to church’. We have contravened and kidnapped the definition of “church”. It is not the building, it is us (apologies to Pogo).
The church is the body of believers. It is not the building, or the bulletin, or the Sermon. Communion, most importantly, is real fellowship with ourselves, others, and our God. This past Easter should have been a day of example, wonder and praise. Not that we were robbed of our right to worship. We, as a culture, concentrated (and are still concentrating) on the rites and rituals of a building and a repetition of what gives us comfort. Not necessarily what Jesus promised us, and not what the early church experienced We could finally visualize a New Testament people gathered in homes, having fellowship, and the only sermon being the laughter of our children over games we play as we share table.
This Easter was an event which could well have been similar to actual early celebrations of His Resurrection. The Apostles were nowhere around. The men were frightened (just as we are of the pandemic). The women were going to the tomb. The women wanted to make sure He was there, as well as still in their hearts. Jesus told Mary Magdalene “not to touch him” when she finally recognized he wasn’t the gardener! We can render so many of the same feelings, the fear, the hope, the joy, as we see what the group He surrounded to Himself did, how they acted, and how they were renewed and became “church” with all the process has brought up to this day.
We missed an opportunity to be the people of God gathered in His name, worshipping and celebrating just as our forebears did, and I think; it would have changed a lot of what’s been going on in the last few weeks. When we see who we are, and what we have been called to be, then the Church is gathered and empowered to build, as well as serve.
Yes, just my wife and I sitting in the family room sharing stories of our families and our Easters as kids, newlyweds, as church workers and teachers helped us to realize we were being Church, Just as hopeful and as scared of what was outside like the first century. And we rejoiced in the joy of being able to celebrate the Resurrection!
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