I’m back to my old question, “How are you doing today?” You just celebrated your first Easter at home. No in-person crowds, or music, or Easter rush. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t have more people watching online, or rousing Easter music, or any less work and excitement, but did you ever think that you would spend an Easter Sunday at home?
What about the post-Easter letdown? Have you given thought to what next Sunday will be? Usually, you plan special events for the Sunday after in order not to be hurt and embarrassed by the noticeable collapse in attendance. But, because of the pandemic, this Easter is different.
Discover a New Normal
Things are different. Did you take this week off? Where did you go? How are you relaxing? I know your answer. So, how are you doing?
As great and as wonderful the music, the worship, and the people, Easter Sunday is a lot of work. I’m confessing here. I spent hours planning the worship experiences for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. I wanted people to experience the story of Jesus’ passion. But, after the excitement of Easter Sunday, the pressure of preaching a message of hope, and the activities for people of all ages, there was a part of me that whispered, “Easter is over. Now we can go back to normal.”
But, in the middle of my ministry, I discovered a new normal. A shift took place. I began to look at every Sunday as Easter Sunday. Instead of Easter becoming a disruption of what was normal, Easter became the new normal.
The Resurrection in John
Of all the Gospels, John seems to be most aware of the problems created by Easter. Easter is the resurrection of Jesus. No one denies that. But John understood that Easter is also the departure of Jesus. The Gospel of John consists of twenty-one chapters. The public ministry of Jesus ends in Chapter 12. The remaining 9 chapters are a farewell. There is a farewell meal, farewell discourses, a farewell prayer, and then the farewell. John, more than any other writer, sets the tone for the new normal. “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:1–2).
There is a deep and profound change. The disciples are like children sitting on the floor playing with their toys when suddenly they look up to discover that Mom and Dad are getting to leave. They ask three questions: “Where are you going? Can we go? Well, who will stay with us?”
Jesus answers, “Where am I going? I’m going to my Father and your Father.”
They ask, “Can we go?”
Jesus: “Where I am going you cannot go now. You can go later.”
Disciples: “Then who will stay with us?”
Jesus: “I will ask the Father and he will send the Spirit, who will be with you always.”
John understands Easter to be a new normal, but the disciples are ready to go back to what they perceive as normal. Simon Peter and six others go fishing. Easter was over. It was good while it lasted. It was wonderful to be sure, but you can’t squeeze a lifetime out of one moment. Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” In other words, “I’m glad things are back to normal.” But while he and his companions are fishing, Jesus appears. After they have breakfast together, Jesus looks at Simon and says, “Simon, do you love me?” “Feed my sheep.”
What has changed your life more?
So, I’ve been thinking. What has changed your life more, the pandemic or the resurrection?
Maybe a better question is, how as the pandemic made you more aware of the resurrection? As Easter people (as Jesus followers) there are some things you might do so show the reality of the resurrection:
- Keep in mind and heart that relationships are as important as ever. How you relate to people during this time is as important as what you do. Care and compassion reveal more of Jesus than anything you might know or do.
- Be generous in your assumptions.
- Deliver groceries to the people who are in isolation.
- Share the hard to find commodities with those who are experiencing financial difficulties or with those who can’t get out to buy them.
- Cook a meal and offer it to your neighbors. You might do this as an individual or as a church.
- Offer entertainment and relationship to those filled with dread.
- Help people find the resources they might need. In times of crisis, it is difficult for some people to keep up with the facts, relevant news, and the resources provided. Be loving and kind in sharing what you know.
- Learn to make masks and offer them to your neighbors.
- Keep in mind that there are systemic problems, not problem people.
- You have other ideas. Remember, all you do is with love and grace.
May the Resurrection be Your Normal
Maybe this pandemic has awakened the true normal and is offering you another opportunity to be the evidence of the resurrection. The pandemic surely changes your living, but it will not have the changing impact as the resurrection.
Maybe you can think of it this way: Suppose you have a ten-thousand-dollar bill. After several days of admiring it, being in awe of it, showing it to your friends, what do you do with it? You don’t hand it over to pay for your cup of coffee. You don’t use it to pay for hotdogs and hamburgers. That ten-thousand-dollar bill will have meaning only after you have changed it into a sack full of concrete acts of grace.
Now, what will last longer, the pandemic or the resurrection? After breakfast, Jesus looks at Simon and says, “Simon, do you love me?” “Tend my lambs and feed my sheep.” When you answer that question, you are telling me how you are doing.
May the resurrection be your normal.