Holy Week is usually less than fun for any church administrator. The planning with the volunteer teams, the endless practice for the musicians, the constant rewrites for perfect bulletins and sermons. (sips coffee) The phone is ringing off the hook with questions about our nursery, what Sunday School looks like and how early people should arrive for Easter Sunday. (refills coffee) Did we post something on social media yet? (Double fisting coffee) What about the website? (screw it - straight espresso at this point) What day are the flowers arriving so we can get Ross in here to capture pictures and video content? Speaking of content, did we create an updated welcome video yet? (Injects coffee directly into bloodstream) Well, whatever happens, happens at this point, ready set go for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the double dose of Easter Sunday. Easter has been turned into such a production that it must be unrecognizable to the earliest followers of the Jesus movement.
But I must also admit, in the light of the news that the death toll in the US has crossed 10,000 from COVID there is an extra burden of resposibility to preach and proclaim ressurection and triump over death. Easter might not be a spectacle this year, but it will nevertheless be spectacular. In all of this stillness and uncertainty there is a gift - a glimpse to the very first Easter
The very first Easter was not unlike our present day situation. It was not in a crowded worship space with singing to the backdrop of an organ echoing off the walls. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house with their own "stay at home" order. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. Things were uncertain. They wanted to believe the Good News that Hope has risen but it seemed to good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones was at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God's love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn't seem quite real yet, or close by. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on the earth. "If God is for us, who can be against us? Yes, I believe with certainity that nothing can seperate us from the love of God." (Romans 8)
This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that first Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say!
Although I, Rev. Joyce, and all of the wonderful staff at Chagrin Falls UMC will miss worshiping with you in person this year we are confident because of the scriptures that God can come into your homes from wherever you are and reveal to you that hope is here and death is no more. Oh, and while we remain in the safety of our homes considering partnering with us this month as we raise funds for Habitat for Humanity Faith Build to build and restore homes of the less privileged so they too can be safe during this pandemic. Give at www.chagrinfallsumc.org/giving and mark the memo line "Faith Build"
For more information on Holy Week services visit www.chagrinfallsumc.org/easter
To listen to our messages from wherever you are subscribe to our podcast at www.chagrinfallsumc.org/podcast
Check out full services and watch video messages at www.chagrinfallsumc.org/messages
Happy Holy Week everyone,
Nick Gliha, Associate Pastor of Discipleship