Does this Easter Still Count?

My husband and I are spending time each afternoon in visual contact with our grandchildren—we started on Facetime and have migrated, like the rest of the world, to Zoom. So far we have played Uno, Crazy Eights, War (card game), Charades, Family Feud, and Madlibs (I found an App.) Just a little warning about playing Madlibs with Middle School boys: You may hear about bodily functions we do not usually mention in church.

On one of our calls the week before Palm Sunday, my oldest granddaughter suddenly realized we are not going to be together for Easter. We usually find a time to do an Easter Egg hunt on some day near Easter if not Easter itself. Many pastor’s kids and grandkids are familiar with the phenomenon of “The Easter bunny had to come this evening because he is too busy tomorrow when it is really the preacher parents or grandparents who cannot quite fit in the frivolity.” For some of the last few years, our agnostic next-door neighbor has hidden the treasures in our backyard while we are at church. For the last two years, the kids have worked in teams and hidden things for each other. No hunting this year, no shared ham, no cheesy potatoes for twelve, no cake with green coconut and jelly beans on the top decorated by little hands. My youngest granddaughter reiterated the realization: “This will be the first time we have not been together for Easter.” Way to rub it in, Alice!

So much of what we associate with Easter will not happen this year. No long line of people you have not seen for a year waiting to get into the sanctuary. No Easter lilies filling the sanctuary and then delivered to shut-ins (or maybe you have figured out a way to do that.) No fancy dresses with new white patent leather shoes. No reminder by the preacher of the good news of the resurrection and the women who were the first preachers.

The question, then, is this. “If a savior is resurrected and we don’t get to celebrate it the way we usually do, does it still count?” If we do not employ all of the tricks and traditions we have used in worship for five or eighteen or forty years to make Easter more real, and to lure those strangers back for another week, will Easter still happen? If we cannot count the people in the sanctuary and imagine that they all feel connected to this congregation in a new way after our beautiful service, did the resurrection really happen?

The truth of the matter is that the good news demonstrated in a once and for all time way on Easter morning has never depended on us making it happen. The resurrection is proof that God is in charge. In fact, the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, rose for us, reigns in power, prays for us. Because we have faith in him we can approach God with confidence. The resurrection and all it promises do not require our participation to make them happen.

Instead, this is what the Lord requires of us: To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God. What we are required to do to make the resurrection real does not involve bunnies or eggs or lilies or sanctuaries full of people. What it requires of us to make it real is to live as freed and forgiven people sharing the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Susan (Sue) Krummel
Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Chicago