Happy Easter. Yes, even with so much suffering, Christians will still celebrate Easter.
However, this will be an Easter like no other. Easter celebrations involve faith, family and food. This year, faith for many will require worshipping at home. There’s some value to that, but in no way does it equal worshipping in church. It’s like being at a sporting event versus watching it at home. We want to share the experience with others.
Of course, an added benefit from in-person worship is that Easter and Christmas services traditionally give people a chance to see numerous fellow parishioners they haven’t seen in a while. The enforced solitude and loss of many social activities during these days have given people a chance to focus on what’s really important. That may include their relationship with God.
Then there is the family aspect of Easter. Again, most of us will not be spending time with our loved ones. We can call or video chat, but it’s just not the same. Not by a long shot. Instead of welcoming children and grandchildren, my wife and I will be spending Sunday the way we have for many days. That is, hunkered down in our home. Five years ago we drove all the way to Texas to see our son and his family for Easter. The next year they moved to Iowa City, and we have seen them for every Christmas and Easter since. Skyping will have to do this time.
We won’t be seeing our younger son, either.
Finally, food is a vital part of any holiday celebration. This Easter, there’s no point in having a big meal with all the trimmings. I don’t think people have wanted to spend extra time shopping for groceries anyway. Unlike Christmas, sometimes we have gone out to eat on Easter. We can’t do that this year. The best we can do is pick up food.
A favorite Easter food memory comes from two years ago. We had just gotten back from a trip east, when our refrigerator conked out. It was Good Friday afternoon. We knew our refrigerator wouldn’t be rising from the dead on Easter morning. Nor could we get a new refrigerator in time. Instead, we used an ice chest to keep some food cold. Much of our meal for about a dozen people that Sunday came from KFC. It tasted good, and we even had some dessert left over. Last year we were back to a traditional home-cooked Easter dinner. However, I would be happy to get takeout this year if we could spend the day with loved ones.
A few weeks ago, President Trump expressed the hope — and that’s what it was, just a hope — that social distancing could end by Easter and people would be able to attend church. He said Easter is a very special day for him. A columnist attacked him for that, saying that he doesn’t even go to church. In fact, a number of presidents who professed faith in God rarely, if ever, attended church, at least not while they were president.
One was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln made regular references to God in his writing and speeches, but he never joined a church as president. In his second inaugural address he raised the question of whether the Civil War was a punishment from God for slavery. He declared that: “Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.” Yet Lincoln said that God might will it to continue “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
I am not going to speculate whether this pandemic is a judgment from God, but let us hope and pray as Lincoln would that this scourge may speedily pass away.
Lincoln enjoyed humor in the face of difficulties, so I’ll offer a joke that was sent to me recently: We didn’t know when we changed our clocks in March that we were switching from standard time to the twilight zone.
As this pandemic continues, my heart goes out to all the health care workers dealing with the coronavirus and others who are working hard to keep our economy going. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Finally, my condolences to the family of former Stephenson County Clerk Dean Amendt, who passed away recently. I got to know Dean well when I was a reporter for The Journal-Standard. He was a gentleman and a dedicated public servant. Remembering him brings a smile to my face.
Contact Dan Moeller at email@example.com.