Dear Covid-19, if ever there’s an Easter, it’s this one
We’ve never met directly. If we had, I doubt you’d forget me. Why? I think I’d stand out to you because I wouldn’t come in all angry at you at the front end of our conversation. That, in itself, may shock you. It may, in fact, be the reason you remember me.
From those you’ve met ahead of me in line, you have already heard all the rage, all the anger, all the hurt, and all the pain over all of those lives—all of those lives—you have taken from us. It’s not just the deaths. It’s the stress. It’s the strain. As I write to you, I am thinking of our medical professionals who continue to work beyond capacity.
I am thinking of school administrators, faculty, staff and students who fight battles and win at a cost we cannot yet measure.
I am thinking of small businesses that have gone belly up. The busted dreams of well-intended entrepreneurs hurt us all.
I am thinking of those in financial peril.
I am thinking of mental health counselors who, due to crushing schedules and workloads, cannot keep up with the number of clients that need to be seen through these days of devastation.
I am thinking of people who haven’t seen their loved one because they are under lock and key in a nursing home.
I am thinking of extroverts chained to a miserable, distant, no touch, plexiglass barricaded life that imprisons their very drive.
I am thinking of congregations who want to unplug the blasted video cameras in their sanctuaries because they long for the days that were.
As a pastor, I’m also thinking of Easter. In thinking of Easter, I consider those cell phones and video cameras that will be livestreaming minimally because dropping upwards of $50,000.00 on state-of-the-art worship tech that is great today and passé tomorrow just doesn’t work all that well into the missions budget.
Finally, I am thinking what I should be thinking, that Easter this year is going to be spectacular.
That’s right. Easter 2021 is going to be spectacular.
Nah, I’m not thinking spectacular like we’ve done in the past. I’m thinking spectacular because, as I write this, the CDC offers this window of hope through the cynical lens of the secular world of what, exactly, Easter is.
And Easter IS resurrection. Coming back from the dead.
In the pastor’s page in my church’s monthly newsletter, I recently wrote about the significance of the four digits 2021. I am not a numerologist by any means, but the number 20 followed by the number 21 indicates a moving forward. This is imagery, a sign, of steps getting us from one point to another.
Oh Covid-19, we are getting out of this. No one knows exactly when this day will be, but someday you will be a memory. As you go, remember this Easter. This big Easter. This 2021 Easter is big because it embraces the essence of Christianity. We are not in despair. In contrast, we are hopeful in our eternal future with our servant leader who suffered, bled, died, and rose again so that we who follow him will also rise from our suffering with lessons learned. With these lessons, we hold an even greater, bolder, and stronger love for everyone not just in some far-off tomorrow, but here today.
Yes, Covid-19, this Easter will be unlike any other. We have learned oppression like people of Jesus’ time experienced under Roman rule. We know what it is like to lose more deeply and more profoundly than most of us have ever imagined.
Like Good Friday itself, you are not an end. There is something beyond you, something you cannot tyrannize, and that is the depth of devotion to Jesus those who follow him might never had known until you arrived.
There are exceptions of course, but most of us didn’t really know suffering—mass, systemic suffering—until you began your ravage twelve and a half months ago. With the exception of World War II’s carnage, which most of us did not experience firsthand, we didn’t know what it was like to ration. We didn’t know what it was like to live under restrictions. We didn’t know what it was to live in a world where so many of us were dying all at once.
Your astounding number of deaths still shocks and hurts us immensely.
Undoubtedly, we did learn loss well beyond our driveways and our dreams of family gatherings that never happened. You hurt us, you hurt us deeply. Yet here’s a truth. You have certainly broadened our understanding of suffering. In turn, you have also strengthened our understanding of our Christ who suffered for the sins He Himself did not commit. This suffering, His suffering, ends death for us.
And this, dear Covid-19, is Easter 2021.
Now that I think about it, maybe you won’t remember me. After all, I didn’t stand out. Like so many who cling to the cross, I just walked with as much hope as possible through painful days when hope was scarce or not available at all.
I will remember you, however. In fact, like those around me (at a social distance), I won’t forget the lessons you’ve taught and the love I now have for Jesus. This love is far better, far deeper, and far stronger than it was before you showed up.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on March 31, 2021.