Thoughts by Richard Bleil
First of all, let me open up by saying Happy Easter.
And yet, as I say this, I realize that this is a very difficult Easter for so many people. The Coronavirus has shut down so many people, churches, charities and businesses that many people will be missing out on their Easter traditions.
A good friend of mine has several children, and now several of those children have children of their own. She is well on her way to becoming the family matriarch as she is the central organizer and host of family gatherings that include her siblings and their families, her children and their families, and guests from the community and church. And I know she is hurting tremendously today.
She would hide literally hundreds of Easter eggs for the massive grandchild Easter Egg Hunt, cook the bulk of the huge meal, and literally open her heart and her home to so many people. Today, I know she couldn’t attend church, at least not in person. They were one of the first churches to transition to online services in response to this crisis, but it’s a far cry from communing with other church members, visiting, chatting and feeling like part of a larger community. I’m guessing that, at least as anything else, that is what hurts with not being able to attend in person. The Easter Egg hunt is off as well. Her family are planning, as individual households, to make meals to celebrate Easter and maintain normalcy as best they can, but the “Gathering” will convene over a video conference.
Not even a hug.
I wish there was something I could suggest. The reality is that, for reasons of personal safety, this has to be the way Easter is celebrated for many of us this year. And I have no advice.
I can try to be cheerful. I can suggest that you should be thankful that you have family to miss or tell you to treat this as a reminder of how blessed your life is, but that doesn’t help. You’ll probably be hearing that a lot, but it doesn’t help mitigate the pain. If somebody is in the hospital in great pain, it’s rather tone-deaf to say to that person, “at least you’re still alive to feel the pain.” It doesn’t help. When somebody is in pain, it brings the focus of that individual to right here, right now, feeling that pain, and while in retrospect they might look back on this Easter and think how lucky they are to have what they do, this Easter, today, right here and now, they’re in pain.
I guess most people know the story of Jesus Christ and why Easter is celebrated by the Christians. For my non-Christian friends, the faith holds that Christ was crucified (nailed to a cross and left to die) for our sins. In other words, he accepted the punishment and died so that our crimes against God would be atoned for. This was, to be sure, an excruciating death filled with agony and pain. Easter does not celebrate his death, though; it celebrates his resurrection. It celebrates that after his death and burial, he again rose and presented himself to his disciples thereby proving his divinity and the fulfillment of his promise of atonement for our sins.
I do not want to suggest that we, you and I, are in any way, shape or form equivalent to Christ, but I can make you this promise; we, too, will return. Today, so many of us are in pain because of the lost traditions and communion with others to which we have become accustomed on Easter. This is a loss that can never be replaced. Surely, some will try to hold belated celebrations once the ban is lifted, but it will never be the same. But we will get through this, and rise, once again, when the crisis finally yields. I can promise that in the future we can look back at this experience and be proud of the sacrifices made to protect our loved ones, just as this year we can look fondly back at the Easter traditions of the past.
It may not mean much to my readers, but for what it’s worth, I’m proud of my friend, and I’m proud of each and every one of you making sacrifices this year. You are not making these sacrifices for yourself, but rather, to protect others. Jesus didn’t sacrifice for himself; he sacrificed for the sins of others. And you are sacrificing for the safety and happiness of your loved ones. For that, I am proud of you.