I’ve been thinking during this Holy Week about what Easter must have looked like to the early disciples. Over the centuries, we have added so many layers of celebration and tradition that we can barely fathom what the followers of Jesus experienced on that first Easter.
They were sheltering in place in their homes grieving for what they thought they had lost. They were fearful of impending doom. Their leader had died. Would they be next? Life as they knew it was over. Jesus was dead and buried in a tomb. They wept and whispered and worried and wondered what the future held for them.
And then Sunday came.
Early that morning, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They discussed how they would move the heavy rock that had been used to seal the tomb. When they arrived, the stone had been rolled away. They thought thieves had broken in and stolen the body of their beloved friend.
For the first time in over two thousand years, we have the opportunity to feel and understand down to our core what that first Easter must have been like. We are huddled in our homes, fearful of impending doom. Some of us have lost our jobs and incomes. Some of us have lost loved ones to this voracious disease. Some of us are sick ourselves. We’re contemplating what might happen next.
We can weep and whisper and worry and wonder what the future holds for us. Or we can let it go. We can let go of all the cousins coming over to dye eggs and the neighborhood egg hunt, and instead plan special treats and activities for our children in our individual homes. We can let go of in-person church gatherings. Instead, we can watch church Easter celebrations online and rejoice that thousands of others are watching services from thousands of churches online with us. We can let go of huge extended family dinners and instead create delicious intimate meals for our precious immediate families.
And after we let go, we can remember. Remember what the first resurrection Sunday felt like for the first disciples. Remember what Easter means without all the cultural trappings we have heaped upon it. Remember that while we are quarantined in these days of uncertainty, waiting for the darkness to lift, that we do not wait alone. Light and Hope wait with us. Because Jesus waits with us. And that's something worth celebrating every single day of the year while we bloom where we are planted as we grow a faith of hope and joy.
He is risen.
He is risen indeed.