Spending Easter at Home

Millions of Christians are spending this Easter at home. Only a few days ago the reaction to the idea of spending Easter at home would have been disbelief. As the reality began to sink in, so did the sinking feeling in the hearts of worshippers who were looking forward to breaking the quarantine with a joyful noise in their house of worship with their fellow Christians. One fact escapes their notice: the first Easter was spent at home.

You might remember the account of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Teacher was welcomed by thousands who were gathering for Passover. They suddenly grabbed palm branches to place under the feet of the donkey who had never known the feel of hosting a human being on his back. Within a very few days, the same crowds were yelling for the execution of the One they proclaimed as their hope.

Jesus’ closest followers spent their last hours with Him asleep while He prayed in the garden alone. As His betrayer brought the Temple Guard to arrest him in the night for an illegal trial in the early hours before morning, the followers turned and ran. Most stayed away during the trial and crucifixion the next morning. On the first Easter, the followers were locked in their room trying to avoid a similar outcome to their three-year experiment into what their Teacher called the Kingdom of God.

They stayed together, for the most part, absent from the streets and the temple where the authorities had carried out their decision that the Teacher was an imposter deserving death. Who could be trusted? One of their own had mysteriously disappeared during dinner and now their leader was dead. Would they be arrested if they left the room? Could they even trust each other?

Their observance of the Sabbath gave them a day between putting the body in the tomb and going again to properly prepare it for burial. The Sabbath had come too quickly to allow them to do the job right on Friday. It was early in on Easter morning when the ladies went back to remedy the issue.

A private gathering started the first Easter. Jesus was missing. Judas was gone, Thomas was elsewhere, and the men stayed while the women went to the tomb. When they returned with the news, they weren’t even believed. Rather than a celebration, the group scattered to try and confirm the theory that the tomb was empty. It would be evening before the Teacher made his first group appearance that changed their lives and the future of the entire world.

As you gather in a small, family group this Easter try to identify with the frightened group of followers who could only think of what could have been. Uncertainty clouds our celebration this year for a different reason. The same Good News that interrupted their Easter can disrupt our lives and change our communities this Easter. The One who was defeated overcame the worst of what humanity could dish out so that He could bless the entire world…beginning with the ones who meant Him harm.

Overcoming is not only possible; it is the mandate. Fear is a liar. The crowd was wrong. Leaders make horrible mistakes. Isolation only discourages. Jesus overcame everything so that we could overcome the threats that challenge our futures. Happy Easter!

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