The COVID-19 pandemic is separating congregations, wrecking businesses, isolating individuals, and ending lives.
It grieves me that our world faces such atrocities. A new “normal” of social distancing is being established in our society, and it does not include greeting one another with a Holy Kiss as is stated in 2nd Corinthians. To love one another and to love our neighbors during this crisis means to keep our physical distance from others.
I am also grieved that our churches will not able to safely congregate during Holy Week. Next Sunday is Easter — the Super Bowl Sunday for churches.
Easter is without a doubt the most important day in the Christian calendar. The argument for the assembly of churchgoers hinges entirely upon the events of the first Easter morning. On that morning Jesus rose from the dead.
While this is a happy ending to the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth — a wrongly accused and convicted man who suffered and died at the hands of corrupt and greedy political and religious leaders — it is only the beginning of our story. In fact, it is the new beginning for our story.
Humanity’s fallen state is exposed as we see violence, oppression, and injustice all around us. Like so many people throughout history, many in our world still bear the image of Adam. The problem is that the attributes associated with this image lead to sin and death. God made humanity in his image, but our self-centered actions have distorted what was once incorruptible and immortal.
Instead of giving up on His creation, God rescued his creation. This task involved the divine entrance of God into the human existence through the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Unlike Adam, and all others in human history, Jesus perfectly embodies the image of God.
Through love, compassion, mercy, and humility Jesus personifies the original intent of the human creation. Moreover, on that Easter morning, we see that Jesus has prevailed and proven Himself victorious over the forces of evil.
Not only does Jesus win on Easter, but humanity wins on Easter. Our broken lives are made whole. Our wounds are healed. Our addictions no longer enslave us. Instead, those of us who follow Jesus are transformed into the true Image of God displayed in Christ. This means that we now live by the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
As I reflect on the current time of crisis and the significance of Easter, I am reminded that Christ, throughout history, has empowered His people to overcome every obstacle, war, or even pandemic.
J.R.R Tolkien, famous for his fantasy series, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” was inspired by his own experiences as a soldier in World War I. His words about overcoming darkness ring true in light of the resurrection and Covid-19.
“It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”
In this dark hour, we desperately need to embrace this kind of faith. Christ’s power over death will pull us through this time of despair. This I am certain.
The Rev. Micah Spicer is the pastor of Third Baptist Church.