Celebrating Easter with an eye on 2022 | Daily News

Celebrating Easter with an eye on 2022

The Church that proclaims the Resurrection of Jesus Christ finds itself in the position on Easter 2021 of claiming the resurrection for itself, the Church, in these still uncertain times. Even with the vaccine and the gradual re-opening of life and routine, it feels like we are living in those murky early morning hours on that first Easter, wondering who will roll away the massive boulder/stone, not having grasped that death could not hold Jesus and that even COVID-19 ultimately cannot defeat us.

Last Lent, when I was serving a church as an interim pastor, I preached my Easter Sunday sermon in a cemetery, my audience consisting of a cameraperson, a sound technician and our church’s minister of music. It was the most unusual, and in some ways the most memorable, Easter sermon I ever preached. It was certainly the smallest Paschal congregation I ever preached to.

Those first bewildering weeks of the pandemic were full of trepidation and uncertainty. We in the Church were still trying to figure out how to approach this virus. I remember — in the first early weeks of the pandemic — how some people were speculating that maybe the church would be able to re-open by Easter (of 2020). How little did we know what we were facing.

Now churches are open again to varying degrees, although many are not open to the extent they were open on Easter 2019. It might be a long time before the church returns to the participation levels seen two Easters ago.

Some congregations — including the one I attend — will require reservations for Easter Sunday in hopes of managing the crowds. A church one of my friends serves opened reservations for two Easter services on its website. Fifteen minutes after the reservation list opened, it was completely filled, and church members arriving late to the website were complaining because they were closed out. My friend opened a third slot for Easter worship to satisfy all who want to attend.

I hope that congregation is indicative of the renewed spiritual hunger. People are eager to assemble again, and those who have been faithful in worship over the decades are starved for the community again. But I doubt the church will be back to 2019 crowd levels this Sunday.

I will be in an Easter Sunday congregation this week, happily rejoicing with the faithful who claim the power of the Resurrection for our lives, God’s triumph over death and evil. I am not serving a church these days, so I will be gathered with the worshipping body.

Even as I worship, I will be looking forward to Easter 2022 when my congregation will perhaps be able to sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” hear a full choir sing the Hallelujah Chorus and enjoy the sound of brass.

There is no such thing as a “partial Easter.” The church can proclaim triumphantly and victoriously under any setting and circumstance. God’s victory over sin and death is complete — once and for all. However, even as I attend Easter worship this Sunday, I will be anticipating Easter 2022. (Albany Herald)