elebrating the Resurrection will feel decidedly different this year. It was just a few weeks before Easter last year that the coronavirus stuffed us into our pandemic tombs. As we prepare for Easter 2021, we are largely still in them, hoping it’s true that come mid-June or so the stones will be rolled away so we can gather with friends and family, embrace a stranger by the hand, stop wondering whether everyone we see has “it.”
It’s been a long year, and like the rest of you, I can’t wait to have my life back. I don’t want to move on too quickly, however, because I don’t want us to lay aside lessons we have learned along the way.
We have learned that we have a choice of succeeding together or suffering separately. This is almost always the case, of course, but we keep forgetting that what affects (or infects) some of us often has the power to take down all of us.
We have learned, again, something that God has been screaming at us since the very beginning: we are not meant to be alone; we are created for each other.
We have learned that suffering is a communal and not just an individual reality. This is a biggie, because we tend to blame misfortune on some lack of personal responsibility when it is usually the result of crippling circumstances.
We have learned that a house filled to the rafters with stuff is a poor substitute for a hug or an unmasked smile. Having things in our lives can add some fun, but having people in our lives is essential.
That list could be much longer, but I’ll stop there, for even those four things show us the truth of the hackneyed caveat that we should not want to “return to normal.” The “normal” of our pre-pandemic lives resulted in poverty for many, injustice for entire communities, the ruination of God’s good creation and many other realities that we should not usher back into our lives.
So, what does this have to do with Resurrection? Well, Jesus’ didn’t want us to be reanimated into the gerbil wheel of the same old troubled existence. He wanted to see us raised into a new creation. As we prepare to exit the pandemic, we don’t have the power to step into that new creation that only comes through Resurrection. But we can anticipate it. We can yearn for it through seeking good for all of God’s children and all of God’s good creation. I wish all of you a blessed Easter, and come mid-summer or early fall—whenever that COVID rock is rolled back--I hope we will all work to make the changes that will bring new life to our world.
Steve Sylvester is the lead pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines.