Christ is risen! Yesterday was Easter—but Easter is not over. While our culture tends toward the belief that a holiday marks the end or conclusion of a celebration, the church does not. There are a dozen days of Christmastide and a full fifty days of Eastertide. This year especially, I believe we need to embrace an Eastertide attitude on behalf of a fearful world.
COVID-19 continues to fill the news. With all the restrictions on travel, work, and gathering, it’s impossible for this pandemic not to fill our awareness. It transformed the way Christians observed Holy Week and Jews celebrated Passover. So many events that happen communally are happening virtually instead, as we watch the numbers of infected and dying continue to skyrocket.
It’s a challenge for us not to become fearful. But, as I mentioned last week, Christ is alongside us in this. That’s why the traditional phrase is “Christ is risen,” not “Christ was risen.” Christ is with us—even now, when we are fearful and distracted by a looming disease with no cure. Christ is with us in the online conversations, the virtual hugs, the smiles hidden by masks, and the neighbors who share encouraging messages on their sidewalks (I’ll share some of my favorites from my neighborhood this week on Instagram).
These days, I find myself thinking about those who have family members and valued friends in quarantine or hospital (including a woman who was pivotal in supporting my own mental health and spiritual growth as a young adult). We have such a tradition of visiting and caring for those who are sick (Jesus encourages this, in fact, in Matthew 25). We understand that both the sick and those who love them will be fearful in such times. Yet, with this pandemic, we know that the worst thing we can do is to physically visit and care for those who have tested positive or developed symptoms. The best way we can show love is to not be there, physically.
Fortunately, Christ is there, on our behalf. Furthermore, most of us (even in poorer countries around the world) have electronic gadgets which allow us to stay connected via voice and video. We can be Christ to one another in this time of “social distancing” (a friend told me that the better phrase is “physical distancing”!) through modern technologies the likes of which Jesus’ followers could never have imagined.
We are not alone, in our fear or in our hope.
I invite you to embrace Eastertide, live with hope, and share that hope with those around you, especially those who are fearful and struggle to trust God in these challenging times.
Could not agree with you more ….. embrace, share hope, share love and listen with the ear of the heart … our call at this somewhat frightening time in our lives.
Something that struck me in your piece was “smiling behind masks”…. It occurred to me when I was in line waiting to enter Trader Joe’s this week and had time to observe the others that lined up around me. Some people are really able to smile with their eyes, and some seem to peer over their bandanas or brightly colored mask with such fear and trepidation in their eyes. Smiling with our eyes might be a new skill to acquire. Maybe adding a little head bow or holding eye contact a heartbeat to two longer is a new way of silently saying “God is with you”… “you are not alone”, “we’ll get through this” – sharing the hope and message of Eastertide.
Thank you, Joyce, for this lovely reflection on smiling with our eyes. You are so right, that our eyes can speak volumes! Many blessings on embracing and sharing hope in this Eastertide season!