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Devotion, April 2, 2020

Scripture: Read John 20.1-18

Easter is coming! We will be celebrating Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday on line. Head to our website, at the times listed and join us for worship this Holy Week.

Easter is my favorite holiday and celebration of the year. As a child we prepared for Easter by receiving a new dress and shoes for church. My brother and I talked endlessly in the days leading up to Easter of where the Easter Bunny would hide our baskets made out of chocolate and filled with goodies. We went to breakfast at church, petted the live bunnies on the front lawn of the church, worshiped with extended family and then gathered with relatives for Easter dinner and an annual egg hunt.

Easter is an important day for churches. Hours are spent preparing for this one day. Pews are filled. Lilies adorn sanctuaries. Musicians share their most celebratory music. Breakfasts are prepared. Sunday School is held. Egg hunts happen on church lawns or indoors in classrooms. Everything turns from the black of Good Friday to the gold and white of Easter morning! The Hallelujah Chorus is sung and people prepare for family gatherings. Easter is also the most important day of the Christian year. It is the day we celebrate that Christ the Lord has risen; that life is greater than death, light brighter than darkness and love stronger than hate. It is the day we as Christians say that 'God wins' as we proclaim God's power through the resurrection. It is a day filled with great hope no matter what our sorrow or struggle.

Almost everything about Easter has changed this year. The pews of churches will be empty. The choirs will be silent. Families will not gather for worship or meals. Community egg hunts have been postponed.

And yet, nothing about Easter has changed. Easter will still happen. We will still walk with Jesus into the holy city of Jerusalem. We will share a last supper with him. We will watch from afar his suffering on the cross. We will be silent on holy Saturday. When we awake on Sunday morning, the tombstone will be rolled away. Jesus will meet his disciples and meet each of us where we are.

Some of the most profound words are found in the gospel of John when Mary Magdalene recognizes the resurrected Jesus and tries to hold on to him. Jesus tells her not to for he has not yet ascended to his father. In these simple words is a powerful message for us today. We cannot hold onto the past and what we have known. We are to look to the ongoing resurrection power of God through the ascension who will then be with us not only today but in the days to come.

We celebrate the victorious power of God this Easter as in every Easter past. It will not be in church buildings, on front lawns with community members or large family gatherings. The message of resurrection: light, life, and love that God brings to us at Easter will call us forth into the future with hope and joy, even in the midst of uncertainty. For First Church we are celebrating Easter with one another and the community on our website. Nothing can stop God from raising Jesus from the dead and singing as we have since the 18th century, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." He is risen indeed. Thanks be the hope and victory that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord, where ever we may be.

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