Have a bittersweet Easter | CT pastors
A pastor friend complained this week: “All of our Easter plans have been shot. We are disappointed – our entire vision and hard work are down the drain! “Another colleague said to me that he was crying over a zoom call from the staff when he finally gave in to the realization that given the rules of social distancing, there was no way to achieve the normal joys of Holy Week. He said: “This is unthinkable; It's worse than the cubs that don't play baseball! "Many of the leaders I speak to fear that Easter 2020 will whimper to a non-event, a climax that doesn't seem like Easter at all.
This year we are facing a reality check. Children waving their palms shoulder to shoulder on Palm Sunday? That could arrest you. Holy Thursday washing your feet? Are you kidding? Go through the stations of the cross on good friday or attach a note about sin to a cross? Nah. Saturday vigil or Holy Saturday activities? Under no circumstance. And then there is Easter when the lament reaches its deepest and deepest levels.
This year we are something like our old exiled relatives who exclaimed with fond memories of Jerusalem: “We were sitting and crying on the rivers of Babylon when we remembered Zion. … How can we sing the Lord's songs in a foreign country? "(Psalm 137: 1, 4). Today, the plaintive waiver of pastors complains something like this: “We sat on slack and cried when we remembered Easter last year. … How can we sing the classic songs of the resurrection and preach the classic Easter passages in a strange place called "online"? "
Zion's songs glorified the presence of Yahweh in the city of Jerusalem. But these songs seemed emotionally and spiritually distant and separate from the point of view of exile. Similarly, a normal Easter is out of reach this year. On Easter Sunday morning, most of us will be home-bound and seek shelter when everything in our being longs to free ourselves from our tight confines and isolation to join Jesus in his freedom. Our hearts will cry out for familiar sanctuaries, familiar people and family meals. Executives and our people will ask, even if we cannot say exactly: How do loss, pain, confusion and complaint work on a day of the year when we focus heavily on celebrating?
Here are four ideas for navigating in exile at Easter.
Practice both / and
What story are we in: in the pain of the virus and the economic catastrophe or in the Easter catastrophe? Do we have to choose? Christians do not prefer the spiritual to the material so much that the material does not matter. Two things are true at the same time. First, Jesus rose from the dead and changes everything in the material world: its origin, how it is supervised, and how it will come to fulfill God's purposes. Second, America now has the highest number of COVID 19 victims worldwide. This is a blatant, undeniable fact about physical bodies. This year we celebrate in the context of deep lamentation.
You can do it. You can run and chew gum at the same time. Maybe you've never had to sue at Easter before, so it feels strange. It is strange. Embrace this truth. God is in limited, strange times.
Don't just celebrate the resurrection. practice it. Drag the eschatological power of resurrection into the pain of the pandemic. Work with your team so that you can “keep the Easter morning real” with emotional, spiritual and intellectual honesty. Process real pain within the promise Easter guarantees: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth … (in which) God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or grief or crying or pain because the old order of things has passed ”(Rev 21: 1–4).
In northern Italy, 60 priests died of coronavirus. How do their churches celebrate Easter? What if 60 pastors had died in your city or state in the past few weeks? Historically, in wartime, Easter meant that relatives not only sought protection, but were far away and there were deadly dangers nearby. There were often fights and murders on Easter Day. We can celebrate Easter this year because the Church will find a way to keep the Easter chain unbroken through the most difficult things that humanity has ever had to experience.
I hear from clergy that last Sunday more people went online than usually go to church in person. Easter 2020 may not have the aesthetic hoped for, but it can be a gospel moment that keeps the Easter message intact for generations to come. By keeping Easter alive this year amid all of our disappointments, you will achieve something you can cherish forever.
Pass Easter peace
"The peace of the Lord be with you."
"And with you too."
These common words used in liturgical worship are questioned when we pastors exhaust ourselves while our phones scream the latest horrific predictions. Who knows what will happen in the next few weeks? However, it is not difficult to say that this Easter we could have many dazed or stunned people in our online communities. I interact with many pastors, and these conversations lead me to bet on something: you think about your best thoughts, evoke the best creativity of your team, and pray your fervent prayers in the hope of warding off disappointment while winning to channel God over the dark darkness and sadness that overshadowed your city in this pandemic.
As you should There is nothing wrong with hardworking, concentrated and passionate work. But along with my efforts, I would like to invite you as citizens of the Kingdom of God to relax. See if you can cultivate sometimes when you are less tense, moments that are less dense and softer. Create wider borders. Shoot for simplicity. As the message Jesus says:
I'm trying to get you to relax and not be so busy getting it so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and his way of working are worried about these things, but you know both God and his way of working. Immerse yourself in God's reality, God's initiative, God's care. You will find that all of your everyday human concerns are met. (Luke 12: 29-31)
What if there was an invitation from God this Easter to focus on the peace that marked some of the first words of the risen Jesus: "Peace be with you" (Luke 24:36). Peace is a quality of God, seen in the risen Christ. It is woven into God's purpose for humanity and therefore possible and powerful – an effective way of living and leading to the good of others.
A key aspect of practicing resurrection is practicing peace. If you maintain peace in your heart and help others do the same, you will do well. They give God's people an increased appreciation for the peace associated with the resurrection. Can you find peace in the coming weeks to embody and spread peace at Easter?
Communicate a missionary imagination
In the past few days, many of you have heard the story of 72-year-old Don Giuseppe Berardelli. We can bet that he, as a high-ranking Roman Catholic priest, has spent his life mediating and aligning with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In Holy Week, we focus particularly on the heart of Jesus, who lived the truth in his death, that "God made the one who had no sin a sin for us so that we could become God's righteousness in him (2 Cor . 5:21). And in his resurrection, he defeated sin, the devil, the principalities and powers, and death itself.
Giuseppe valued the other heart of Jesus so much – and valued the reformation of his own life in Christ-like likeness that when the moment came, who was desperately sick with COVID-19, Giuseppe flooded with Christ-likeness by giving up his ventilator younger man it could live. Giuseppe's act is an impressive and imaginative model for the missionary moment we were offered this Easter. Selfless generosity and willingness to make sacrifices appear millions of times across America. Breathe life into this hope in your community. Fan it out in flames. Celebrate how such deeds prove the living Jesus in the Church.
Pastors and preachers are always aware of the audience and the context. If you can't give special sermons, decorations, music, and musicians, if you can't flower the cross, or if you can get annoyed about people who only come at Easter, the normal Easter story seems overshadowed. In reality, the historical fact and continuing power of the Resurrection overshadow everything and give its true meaning to every person, place and time. Even Easter 2020.
If you are thinking about how to work on these four ideas for exiled Easter, I have one last idea for you: Jesus lives! He leads the most substantial, interesting and consistent life you can imagine. Even through a pandemic, Jesus is monitoring the entire creation for the intended Telos. Be confident. Run away from it. At Easter 2020, you will be liberated from the mere banishment of our valued routines to the liberation of people to find their lives in the midst of a tragedy in today's life and lead them into an experience of life with God.
Todd Hunter is Bishop of Churches for the Good of Others (C4SO) in the Anglican Church in North America.
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