The list of things postponed due to COVID-19 grows exponentially each day. Concerts. Sporting Events. Easters. Weddings. Funerals. Graduations. I lament with high school and college seniors whose careers have been cut short. From my own personal experience, the last three months of high school were the only time I had any fun. College…well that’s a different story for a different day.
With the uncertainty of these days, people, families, organizations struggle to select an alternative date. Instead, the phrase of the day is TBD…to be determined. We know too little about too much to make effective plans beyond today. Carpe diem! Maybe to the extreme.
Some people don’t like the ambiguity of ‘TBD’. Some like the concreteness of the schedule: this will happen on this day at this time. Some love the freedom of TBD. When will Kerry’s office be organized? TBD—we know it will one day, we just don’t know when or under what circumstances.
Easter is, and has always been a ‘moveable feast’. The early church tied the celebration of Easter with the Hebrew calendar, which is based on a lunar year, not a solar year. [Insert a long, boring paragraph on the history of the Western Church and the Gregorian calendar and the Eastern Church and the Julian calendar.] The link between the Hebrew Passover festival (first Thursday after the first full moon after the spring equinox) results in a thirty-five-day arc of when Easter falls. It falls anywhere between March 22 and April 25.
If we lament the loss of our Easter celebration on April 12, 2020, let’s consider the ambiguity and uncertainty of the first Easter. Interrupted by the sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Salome brought spices to finish the burial ritual for Jesus. The tomb was empty. The soldiers didn’t know what was going on. The appearance of angelic messengers only added to the confusion. The disciples didn’t believe the Mary’s report.
No one had anticipated the commotion of the Resurrection. The choir hadn’t practiced, the children’s program wasn’t finished, the lilies hadn’t been ordered. Easter wasn’t on anyone’s calendar…lunar, solar, Gregorian, Julian or Mayan.
But it happened. The Resurrective power of God was put on full display…no worship committee to guide the experience, no sanctuary to decorate, no choir to rehearse, no calendar to decide upon and change and argue about. Just a surprise.
I find the surprise of the Resurrection to be wholly (and holy) consistent with the nature of God. We cannot control that power. We cannot dictate when, where, how, or who it affects. It just is. This power resurrects in the most surprising ways, the most surprising times, the most surprising, the most reckless, and irresponsible ways.
I can only give thanks and praise for that. I am a recipient of that reckless, irresponsible resurrection. I am a witness to it. I have seen hope in despair. I have seen love in hate. I have seen life in death. It should not be that way, but it is. It just is. It shouldn’t surprise us, but it does.
We don’t need a calendar to tell us when or where or how to celebrate the Resurrective power of God. If we really look—under last autumn’s dead leaves, at the greening buds on the maple tree, in the darker, concealed parts of our lives, there is life and hope and love.
Celebrate that Resurrective power of God today. We deserve the celebration. One day we will put it on the calendar… the lunar, the solar, the Gregorian, the Julian AND the Mayan. We will get the choir, and the lilies, and the bells and we will celebrate properly.
I love you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.