Holy Week and Easter are for me, as for many Christians, key points in the year. Journeying with Jesus through triumph, betrayal, humiliation, defeat, death and ultimately resurrection is more than an act of remembrance, it is a participation in our foundational story. We are an Easter people. Two weeks ago, Easter seemed far off and those who were muttering about not being able to celebrate Easter in church seemed like the sort of prophets of doom no one wants to be around. But as I write this on Passion Sunday, it seems certain that we will not be gathering on Good Friday or celebrating together on Easter Sunday. I feel pretty affronted about this. It is a loss.
Christians have always gathered. Even in the face of persecution Christians met, and meet, for fellowship. We are the body of Christ, it is our nature to draw together. And this year we cannot. Two or three cannot gather in Christ’s name unless they are already part of the same household. We cannot meet to experience together the wonder and victory of resurrection, and to proclaim again Christ’s final triumph over death. This time of lockdown has the feeling of a Narnian season: it is always spring, but never Easter.
But of course Easter is not caused by our celebration of it. Whatever I, or anyone else does on Easter day, Jesus will still be risen. He will be risen indeed. Alleluia. And the resurrection is news we always need to hear. It is a truth we always need to be formed by and it is a promise that is the constant grounds for our hope. There has been some talk of deferring Easter until such time as we can gather to sing, pray, rejoice and hear the trumpet stop on the organ. I look forward to that day, but Easter will not wait until then. The resurrection breaks into our reality whether or not we are ready for it. It is as universe changing, hope giving, and love establishing, whether we are locked down in our own households, or gathered in congregations of hundreds. It is as glorious and transformative whether we greet the risen Christ in the pyjamas we have been working from home in, or in our best Sunday best. Lilies, trumpets and even chocolate cannot add anything to the news of resurrection; it is the most complete event in, and beyond, history.
It’s going to be a strange Holy week and Easter. I hope, with others, to find ways of journeying with Jesus, whilst staying at home. I hope to find a way of expressing something of the overwhelming joy that Easter often means to me. I hope to look at the world through the light of resurrection, knowing that whilst suffering is part of our story, love is our story. I hope to sing Thine Be the Glory as heartily as I can. I hope to sing it as I have at many funerals as an act of rebellion against death and suffering and as a proclamation of hope and love. I hope to sing it knowing my brothers and sisters near and far are still part of a church that with gladness hymns of triumph sing. And I hope to sing it feeling, in every bit of me, that our Lord now liveth and that death has lost its sting. I hope to sing it as part of the body of Christ who can’t gather, but who can’t be separated by distance. And I hope my neighbours don’t mind.
Dr Lindsey Hall is the diocese's Discipleship, Vocations and Evangelism Team Lead and Strategy Enabler
Resources and ideas for Holy Week and Easter will be shared on the website and on Lichfield Diocese social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Do share your ways of marking Holy Week and Easter through those channels or on our Facebook group.