It’s weird right. I mean, here we are entering into the most important time in the Christian calendar and it just doesn’t feel right. There was no procession of children waving palm branches on Sunday. There is no preparation for foot washing, communion, stations of the cross, Tenebrae, or even Easter Sunrise services. Although, we look around us and see all the usual signs. Trees are in bloom, birds are singing and signs of new life are everywhere. And yet somehow it all just feels…empty. And we’d be kidding ourselves if we said it didn’t. We miss each other. We miss pomp and regalia. And we lament what this virus has done to our way of life, our way of celebrating and our way of remembering. How in the world do we embrace all that this week symbolizes without who we are and what we have been?
For me personally this is even more significant. For the first one in more than ten years I am not entering into this season as a pastor. In some ways I am grateful. I can’t imagine what my colleagues are going through trying to make sense of this new way of being and doing church in the midst of quarantine. But I still feel weird. This is the season I lived for. I loved it. Looking for new and creative ways to celebrate that for which the church exists. The hope of the empty tomb on the other side of the cross. The victorious celebration of life triumphing over death. And yet, everywhere we look today all we see is fear and dread of death. How can Easter people speak we we don’t even have the chance to embody it like we normally do? Where is the hope and new life in the midst of all this chaos?
On Sunday we read The Liturgy of the Palms, the gospel passage for Palm Sunday. It always makes reference of the words of the prophet Zechariah. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” – Zechariah 9:9 And it’s easy to get behind the triumphant and victorious part, but I was struck by the word humble. The Hebrew aniy is actually best translated as,”depressed, in mind or circumstances”. And I’m struck by that. The King in the midst of victory and triumph on behalf of his subjects is depressed in mind or circumstances. I think that might describe a lot of us right now…and I think that’s okay. After all, Easter didn’t make everything hunky dory for the disciples and the church. Easter just gave them hope in the midst of the endurance that their life had become. And maybe, just maybe that is what Easter could be for us this year. Although life and circumstances may feel empty that it’s okay…because the tomb is still empty.