Hi! I miss everyone! This is a particularly hard time for those of us referred to as “huggers!” I am sure you know one of us or are related to one of us. To say the struggle is real is an understatement! This time of “Social Distancing” or physically distancing ourselves to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of this terrible virus is difficult to say the least. Now, I know that missing people is not the largest problem we are facing…. I tried to make a list, but that would take the all the words allotted for this article. Let’s just agree that this is just hard in so many ways. It is tough to know what to do in this unprecedented time but I do know a few things.
God is not surprised by Covid-19. In fact, He is not surprised that we are in Holy Week unable to be together as community this Easter Sunday. I do not believe God gave this to us as a punishment. I do know that God is still in control. He has a plan to use even the worst tragedies to do amazing things. He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). I don’t know about you but many times I have gone through something incredibly difficult and saw on the other side how God used it and something beautiful came out of it. I could have never imagined or prayed for what God showed me looking back at the situation.
So let’s look back at the original Holy Week, the one we celebrate today. Jesus entered Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday with people singing His praises; He was fully aware that this was His last week of earthly ministry. He was not surprised. Jesus knew that this crowd sang His praises, and another crowd on Friday would call for His death. Jesus knew that God had a plan.
The plan hasn’t changed it is for our salvation! When the crowds sang “Hosanna in the highest” the word hosanna translates from Hebrew literally as “please save.” That was their expectation that Jesus would be the one sent to save them from slavery and oppression. That they would have been set free from bondage once and for all. And they were right, just not exactly. Jesus came to set the them free from something far greater than the Roman Empire. Jesus came to set all of us free from slavery to sin and death.
Easter Sunday! Resurrection! Our Salvation! On that beautiful morning the women went to the tomb and found it empty! When Jesus was resurrected He conquered sin and death! He set us free from that bondage! God’s plan was realized. Are we celebrating that? Have we turned our eyes away from the empty tomb to concentrate on what is happening in the world today? The empty tomb, the resurrection, is the nonnegotiable truth for Christians. John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” One of the bibles most quoted and loved verses, but my grandmother said you cannot read 3:16 without 3:17 “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” It is about God’s love and grace for us that Jesus came to save us that we might live forever with Him.
This is an unprecedented time we are living in right now. I know it’s hard and it’s scary but no matter what happens Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, this year’s Holy Week will be one to remember. It will be like no other. Choose to look at it in a new way. Look for how God is working in your life and how is God working in our communities. How can you, your family or friends celebrate in a new a different way? Now that you have the time what are you going to do with it?
I do want to assure you God is at work! God is not surprised! He has not left us! There is a plan for you…. the plan is for you to have a personal relationship, a life changing relationship with Jesus. And at this unprecedented time aren’t you blessed to know that we are not alone Matthew 28:20 says “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” that is a promise to you. Let me leave you with this scripture John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” A promise that you are never alone.
This Easter let us be in the presence of Christ like never before. The churches may be empty but so was the tomb and we all know how that turned out! Happy Easter! Be blessed and be safe!
The writer is the associate pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church in Sidney.