As we walk through Holy Week 2020, we’re taking time to consider what it will mean to celebrate Easter while we’re unable to gather with others. To read Monday’s post, click here.
There’s been a flurry of advice flying around the internet as we’ve been driven further into isolation over the past few weeks. I’ve consumed some of it. I’ve heeded some of it and I’ve dismissed other of it. I’ve even been doling out some of it — like this blog. When the world gets turned upside-down we’re looking for answers on how to approach a new (even if only temporary) normal. And plenty of folks have ideas.
Some people seem to be saying that the best way forward is to maintain a strong connection to what we already know — maintain some semblance of the “old normal” to help us stay grounded as we move forward into a foggy future. Some folks are saying we ought to use this season to improve ourselves, hustling with the “extra time” to make progress on otherwise-unrealized goals. And others are saying that we’ve got our hands full just staying sane, keeping our cool and managing our emotions. No need to push. Just focus on managing your emotions in a stressful season.
We continue to walk through Holy Week, doing our best to celebrate the season without the ritual maps we’ve been accustomed to over a lifetime. Many of us are asking how Easter ought to look without sundresses and Sunday gatherings. I think we could take any one of the three approaches outlined above to find our way to a sacred celebration that’s appropriate for an unprecedented time. Let’s unpack each one below.
Cling to What you Know
If you want to try to keep things the way they’ve been as you’ve developed habits and expectations for how Easter looks in your life, I think you’re totally in the clear. This, of course, comes with the caveat that you understand that an Easter without gathering won’t actually look the same as an Easter full of crowds of people celebrating together.
Still, you could stream an exciting worship service online, cook the same meal you always cook for a crowd (just maybe on a smaller scale), coordinate parallel egg hunts to be completed with cousins over FaceTime, and maintain as many traditions as possible. For many of us this approach could bring comfort. And what is the Gospel if not comfort for the weary and the broken-hearted?
If you want to cling to what you’ve known before, just hold loosely to your expectations and make the most of a difficult situation. Let the familiarity of the traditions be the embrace of God as you celebrate the forgiveness that comes again and again and again each and every Easter.
Go Big at Home
You might also decide that if this week can’t be exactly as it typically is, then it might as well be completely different. You can design an entirely new Easter for an entirely new year. With this approach we ought to recognize that while the traditions we are used to point us back to Jesus, they certainly aren’t the only way for us to see our Savior around this holiday. We can come up with myriad ways to celebrate the Risen King.
You could plan Easter trivia for the whole family on Easter morning, have an Easter bunny crafting competition around the dinner table, or make a giant Jesus topiary in your back yard. You can seize this opportunity to do some things you never thought were possible before. The “hustle-hard” Easter would connect to the Gospel promise that Jesus is always making all things new as his Kingdom advances. You’re engaging the creative spirit that connects you to the Infinite Creator.
If you shoot for doing more this Easter season, just remember that the goodness of Easter does not rely on your ability to throw a big party. Allow the new adventures to be a fun experiment, not an unrealistically high bar that must be cleared for you to “win” at celebrating.
Keep Calm and Easter On
For some of us the unexpected and unpredictable circumstances of this season have us in a perpetual state of “not OK”. The dis-ease you feel around social separation is a reminder that we are a people meant to live life together. If you’re struggling to hold yourself together right now; you don’t need to push harder, do more, or snap out of it. You can plan this week to make room for calm days that help you find peace in the chaos. With this approach, we recognize that in seasons of difficulty, we can still celebrate the Joy of connecting with Jesus.
You might plan for a slow Easter morning. Make a big pot of coffee and watch an Easter-themed movie in your pajamas — anything that makes you think of new beginnings. Complete a puzzle with your loved ones as you reflect on the freedom you have not to get anything accomplished. If ever there was a day that we could rest in our own lack of need to be productive, it’s Resurrection Sunday, when we remember that Jesus has once-for-all produced victory over death on our behalf.
If this calm Easter is your move, then just be aware of being fully present. Avoid “checking out”. Fully engage in restful activities that point you to the eternal sabbath that we find in Jesus. Allow a slow day to point you to the Truth that productivity does not determine your worth.
The beauty of Easter is that when we thought all was lost God made a way in Jesus that we might be reunited with our maker. So, even now, as you wonder if this Easter will really feel like Easter after all; remember that God is ready to make a way for those who are ready to receive New Life in Christ. How we celebrate is not nearly as important as the position of our hearts toward the God who came to get us.