Just as it was for everyone, our Easter was different this year. No church service to attend, no large family gathering, or huddling close for pictures. The COVID 19 outbreak has temporarily taken all of that from us. We were able, though, to have a big breakfast, an in-house service with music, scripture, prayer, and a message. For me personally, it was a reminder that our joy and thankfulness can be found in the simplest forms outside of the often bloated celebrations that can rob a solemn and meaningful time of much of its power.
We prayed for those that are lonely; for those that are hungry; for those that are hurting. We laughed, and sang, and enjoyed each other’s company…then we ate, watched some of the services at the Washington National Cathedral, and got in an afternoon nap.
I would have much rather enjoyed Easter with a full house, the grandkids, and visitors and friends stopping by and going out for lunch. But sometimes when we are forced to reflect, as opposed to constant activity, we can find benefit in that reflection. We are all a little frightened right now…about COVID 19, about the local and national economy, about our family’s health (both physical and financial) and about what the near future holds in this crisis. Will our leaders make the right decisions? And for the right reasons?
Imagine the fear of the disciples two thousand years ago? The man they had pledged their life to was dead. They had put their entire lives on the line in the belief that this man they followed would free Israel, and usher in God’s Kingdome on Earth, bringing uplifting to the poor and justice to the marginalized. Following his brutal torture and execution, they understandably scattered in fear. Only the appearance of the resurrected Jesus gave them back their hope.
That reminded me of the story of the great German statesman Konrad Adenauer, who became Chancellor of Germany in the years following the utter devastation of World War II. Adenauer requested a meeting with Billy Graham before his retirement in 1967 and expressed to Graham that he believed the most important thing in all the world was the resurrection: “If Jesus Christ is alive, then there is hope for the world.”, Adenauer said. “If Jesus Christ is in the grave, then I don’t see the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon.” Imagine being tasked with rebuilding a nation so thoroughly defeated and ravaged by years of evil leadership and all-out war? It must have seemed to Adenauer an almost insurmountable job.
There will be a time, hopefully soon, for us to rebuild our nation and economy. It will not be easy or fast. Some models are predicting 20% unemployment or higher. Small businesses are struggling to stay viable long enough to weather the storm. Lives are lost at a rate of around two thousand per day. Experts tell that only widespread virus and antibody testing, at a far greater level than currently available, offer us the opportunity to safely resume public activity and even then it will likely be resumed in stages, with a regional progression.
Sunday was a reminder that in all the uncertainty, struggle, and fear of the moment…we can still find some hope to hold onto. For all of the things I missed about more traditional times, it was a pretty good Easter.
Jeremy Jeffcoat is an Alexander City resident and former candidate for Alabama House District 81.