From the Manse April 2020

Dear Friends,

Our social and religious norm is to mark Easter with festivities filled with people gathering, communal liturgies, and churches filled with families on Resurrection Sunday. But this year, there is nothing socially or religiously normal about the Easter season; we are in a global crisis. This year we are separated, socially distanced. Not by choice, but for the sake of saving lives. Therefore, ministers and worship leaders everywhere are pushed to reimagine how we mark this Easter season, with congregants in their home. How do we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

One of the great images of Easter Sunday is the empty tomb. When churches across the country will be empty, we mark the Easter season by remembering the powerful message of the empty tomb. The empty tomb represents life; it is the message that our risen Savior defeats the worse death imaginable, and lives. It is the salvation message that speaks life in our Christian faith. In the same manner, may our empty churches speak to our care for life as an exercise of the very faith.

It is important to reimagine this Easter season in light of the empty tomb in order to help us imagine our efforts to stay at home, and socially distance ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic as an act of faith. Our caring for our lives and the lives of others is an act of holy justice. Our churches are empty in this season so we might live! This is the reality in our Easter season, and a reality in our lives in this unprecedented time. Yes, Easter will be different, but there is nothing about this time in the history of our lives that is the same. We are in unique and unfamiliar times in humanity, and our faith practices must reflect these times

It is important during these COVID-19 times that we make space for lament. Let us not rush to abandon the lament of Good Friday to rush into the joy of Resurrection Sunday. Be intentional about holding both the joy and the sadness in tension this year as we move through the Easter Vigil and into Resurrection Sunday.

We will celebrate together once again, remember Easter is a celebration not a date, Church is a gathering not a building. We will give thanks for the resurrection of God's people from this time of isolation. We will give thanks that our God is a God who does not forsake us.

Yes, Eastertide is a communal celebration, one that this year we will celebrate physically apart, but spiritually connected. Blessings to each of us as we share in this liturgical season, and may we go from the empty tomb, in the power of the resurrection of our Lord.

Please find with this letter a short act of worship as a PDF Version or an Online Version we can all save together. Make time at 10:30 on Easter Sunday so we can share together in worship.

Grace and Peace to you

Alan