For the first time in the history of our family and our nation we will not be celebrating Easter events at Church services this weekend. Think of it … in honor of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, followers of Christ have joined together in community and fellowship to worship and express our love for God for over 244 years in a row.
This Easter churches will be empty, but homes will be filled with adoration and praise to the One Who died, was buried, and rose again for us.
Barbara and I will be honoring, proclaiming, and praising God for his world-changing love and forgiveness at home, just the two of us. The Coronavirus is still lurking.
“Sheltering in place” is affecting everyone’s sense of well-being. In recent conversations we’ve heard of fear, confusion and unusual fatigue from living on high alert … and we’ve sensed much less confidence from everyone on making decisions about tomorrow. Living in isolation has already reinforced old truths: live day by day, depend on God for His daily supply of manna, and create new shelter-at-home rhythms.
“Give us this day our daily bread,” the Bread of Life taught us (Matthew 6:11). A taste of the early church is now ours as we gather “house to house” for Sunday teaching and worship. Living by pre-planned schedules has ceased. Booking ahead … stopped.
We wonder: “Are You, God, inviting us to a deeper Good Friday? Are the extra time and multiplied losses in our lives ushering us into our own mourning coinciding with the memory of Yours? Lost jobs and wages … lost senior years, graduations, sports, entertainment … lost freedom to assemble, to touch those we love, to be near.” We have been reminded that God is the giver of these good things.
We are also reminded: Death always precedes new life.
We are not the first people since 33 AD to mark the anniversary of the cross in hiding, retreat, surrounded by death.
Our impotence before this virus has halted our independence. Therefore, this year’s Holy Week may be the most meaningful we’ve ever known because we are reminded afresh of our interdependence on one another and our dependence upon Almighty God.
Ideas for making Good Friday Holy
1. Download and watch the film, Jesus, or the original Ten Commandments movie. You will have all day so watch Moses early in the day and Jesus in the afternoon or evening.
2. Share communion together as a family or with your spouse: You don’t have to be a paid pastor to lead your family in communion, if you are a born again follower of Christ, you ARE a “Royal Priest.” (I Peter 2:9)
3. Ask everyone in your household to make a list of the new “deaths” in your life. Loss, another word for death, is the experience of having something valuable taken away. God may restore many of these losses to us one day, but today … what does He want you to learn today in their absence? What seeds can this experience plant in your heart, in your soul that can blossom into a likeness of Jesus? (One answer is hope and expectancy of the day when there will be no more sorrow, tears and death. Read Revelation 21:1-6 aloud to your spouse or family)
4. Read Jesus’ last prayer from the cross in Luke 23:34. Then individually ask God who you can forgive. In the face of death—and by this weekend many of us will know someone who is in ICU or has died from the virus—our grievances seem petty.
5. End your day by singing a hymn or a chorus or play one and sing with it. If you want something that will lift your soul, track down this arrangement (see link) of “It is Well With My Soul,” and turn up the sound real loud. Close your eyes … hold hands … sing along (that why we turned it up loud!) … and after it’s done give thanks to One Who gives “peace like a river.”
Create meaning in Easter at home
Unlike previous generations separated by geography, we can be together through Zoom and FaceTime and video. Take full advantage of these creative venues for gathering. Dennis and I have already experienced connections in these channels … a taste of community without being together. Easter Sunday has always been gathering to celebrate and rejoice in the victory of Christ’s resurrection. Ask God to show you some creative ways you can safely “be together.”
Here are a few creative ways we and others plan to make Resurrection Day holy and celebratory.
1. A friend of ours said, “I bought my girls new dresses and by golly they are going to wear them! We are not celebrating Easter in pajamas!” PJ’s are fine for Christmas morning, but Easter is all about being made new in Christ. So wear those new clothes, find something white, declare your joy by dressing for the occasion.
I, Dennis, have said I may put on my tuxedo! After all aren’t we ultimately getting ready to go to a wedding? (see Revelation 19:7-10).
Gather noise makers (tambourines, bells, even stadium pom poms) and parade around your yard or street (with another family at safe distances) shouting hallelujahs!
2. My oldest, Ashley, is making her boys (all seven of them, just under the mandatory ten or fewer people gathering), take showers and get dressed every Sunday before they listen to the sermon. She said, “Sunday is the Lord’s Day, the Sabbath, and I want you to look nice and be clean. It’s one way we honor the Lord and it represents giving Him our best.”
3. Download and play our Easter playlist … all day … loudly! Even though the virus is still spreading, the Resurrection is eternally true. Our lives have been redeemed! Celebrating even on a smaller scale is one way we can express our gratitude for His finished work on the cross.
4. Light your candles and bring in flowers from your yard or grocery store. I’ll be sprinkling red rose petals on Good Friday around my Holy Week Behold the Lamb candles and replacing with white flowers on Sunday. Flip your “Waiting on the Lamb” banner to the gold and white “I am the Resurrection and the Life” side.
5. My youngest, Laura, said her neighbors are gathering in the cul-de-sac on Easter Sunday. They plan to bring lawn chairs, sit six feet apart and sing worship songs together, and share a portion of the day together.
6. Susan, a friend in Virginia, said she and her husband will gather with two other couples who are dear friends and share a simple prayer and worship time on their deck, seated six feet apart.
7. Dennis and I are planning a zoom room for Resurrection Day so we can be “with” all our kids and grands even for a short amount of time. We will taste togetherness. This is what Easter is all about—a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb. Jesus promised, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
This year we will all be #HomeforEaster. We’d love to see photos of how God provides ways for you to celebrate, gather in small groups, and make much of His Resurrection victory for us. Post pics of your family with the hashtag #HomeforEaster and tag @everthinehome.
Christ is risen! ... Christ is risen indeed!
Dennis and Barbara