This year I will experience a first…I will not be going to church on Easter. Growing up, Easter at church was a staple! And being a Pastor for 15 years, Easter service is a big Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever missed an Easter Service. As far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the main ways to celebrate this holiday.
But this year, things are very different. No Easter celebration at church. No getting dressed nicer than usual, or taking family photos at church. No spending a lot of extra hours planning the Sunday service, or going to a Good Friday service…maybe even a Maundy Thursday service as well. No walking up to everyone at church and hearing the greeting “He has risen”, to which you reply “He has risen indeed!” No singing the classic hymn Up From The Grave He Arose at the top of our lungs with the rest of the congregation. No seeing a lot of visitors at church, and having to plan for extra seats. No big meal with friends and family after, or big Easter egg hunt for all of the kids.
None of that.
We’ve been social distancing and not gathering in groups for over a month now, and so far it has been weird, but in the since that everything right now is just different. However, when you are used to celebrating a big event like Easter…especially as a Follower of Christ, because this is the single greatest and most important event in our faith…and you can’t do the same things you are used to doing to celebrate, it really stands out. At least it does to me.
What’s more, I fear that this event and all it stands for can be easy to forget about it…to allow the significance of it to be lost, or minimized in some way. Perhaps, even to start to feel like Easter, along with everything else in our country right now, is cancelled.
But Easter is not cancelled
2000 years ago, on that first Easter, there was an attempt to cancel it…
Matthew 27:62-66 – The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Matthew 28:1-7 – Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…
Matthew 28:11-15 – While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
They attempted to cancel Easter by acting like it never happened. Even though they knew it did, they lied to make it seem like it didn’t.
But that didn’t work so well. Why? Because 2000 years later, we are still celebrating it! They couldn’t stop Jesus from rising from the dead, they couldn’t stop the spread of his good news, and they couldn’t stop what God had planned as a result of his son coming to save us from our sins.
It could not be cancelled
Today, we serve and celebrate the same risen Lord. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means what he did for us on the cross lives on, and his power over sin and death that was displayed in his resurrection 2000 years ago lives on today.
Whether we are able to gather together to celebrate, or we celebrate in our homes, we are still celebrating a risen Lord! He died for our sins, was buried, and was raised again on the third day. That hasn’t changed, and it never will change.
Things may be weird or different right now. But the truth of Easter and what it represents is the same. The hope we have through Jesus remains. Jesus is risen!
That cannot be cancelled
So this Easter Sunday, may the power of Christ’s resurrection be felt and celebrated. Whether you watch a service online, or have a small service with just a few people in your home, may you remember that Jesus overcame sin and death for you and for me.
May we all remember that Easter…the true meaning of Easter…cannot be cancelled.
He is Risen!
This is a simple yet powerful video that reminds us of the hope we have, even though things are different right now, because of Christ’s resurrection…