Easter Sunday is going to be weird this year. We are used to celebrating in style. For Bearwood Chapel, Easter means a week long festival including gatherings, a breakfast and communion on Good Friday, children’s clubs and usually some special events such as Arts Days and café nights. Then on Easter Sunday we all gather for a Big Service Together. We decorate the main hall with balloons and we crowd into it. There is something spine tingling about being there as the first notes of “Christ the Lord is risen today sound.
Not this year. This year we are in our homes under lockdown. Limited to essential food shopping and one exercise walk each day, this year we must all stay home. Fear stalks the streets in the form of a deadly, fast spreading virus. It will be sad not to celebrate in the usual way. Easter should be a time for joy and togetherness.
Yet, listen to these words from John 20:19-23
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
That very Easter, the disciples were under lock down. Afraid of a hostile enemy outside, they locked the doors and bunkered down. Our experience of being locked in our houses, of not being able to gather publicly and of seeing far more police on the streets certainly helps us to appreciate more the experience of the persecuted church. But even more than that, it takes us back to the very first Easter and the experience of those early disciples.
And, so often, it is our experience and struggles that takes us to Scripture. We can just live the experience and say “that was fascinating” or we can hear what God’s Word has to say about times like this. The disciples were locked in, afraid of a deadly enemy that stalked the streets. Then Jesus appeared. A great stone could not keep him in and a locked door could not keep him out
Jesus’ response to their fear and isolation is to say something and to do something. He says “Peace be with you” and he commissions them for Gospel service. He breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
This weekend, Jesus says to us “Peace be with you.” Believers who know the love and peace of God do not need to be afraid. We are not alone in these dark days. We have received his Holy Spirit. We can enjoy God’s peace. However, we are also reminded of our calling. He has sent us. We have a responsibility to keep sharing the good news of Jesus. Let’s keep doing that by social media, texts and phone calls.
This may feel like a strange Easter but it also provides a unique opportunity. Christians have long complained about he sentimentality and trappings of Easter and Christmas. Well this year, all of those trappings are stripped away and we have an incredible opportunity to bring hope and peace to a frightened and hurting world. We offer the peace that passes all understanding this Easter.
If you would like to help share the goodnews:
You can invite a friend to our Easter Sunday Service online at our facebook page. Why not use invitation below?
You can also link them up with this fantastic website from Glen Scrivener