By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:6, ESV
Easter will arrive, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of us quarantined to our homes. As the virus continues to sweep around the world, the invisible enemy we are battling has launched a siege on our spirits. “The word ‘closed’ is a heartbreaking word in this life and in the life to come,” explains John Piper, “the meaning of Easter is that God is in the business of clearing this world of heartbreak. The meaning of an empty tomb or the opening of a closed tomb is that God has begun a campaign with Jesus Christ to open a million doors of hope to people who trust him.”
Easter isn’t just something we celebrate once a year, but every day we wake to follow Christ. The hope we have in Jesus doesn’t falter or fade amidst crisis …or even pandemic. We may be battling unprecedented burdens for our generation, and fighting fear on a moment to moment basis, but our hope is not lost. Our hope is set firmly in what has already been accomplished by Jesus’ saving work on the cross …and resurrection.
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What Is Easter & Why Do Christians Celebrate It?
“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:23-25
Christians celebrate Easter in remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection from death, three days after being hung on a cross. “Luke tells us, having done all of his historical research,” that for forty days, Jesus gave many infallible proofs, "and Paul himself,” John Piper explains, “said that five hundred people had seen him alive, and some of those are still alive, if you want to go talk to them (1 Corinthians 15:6).” The substitutionary sacrifice of Christ paid the price for the sins of humanity, once for all. Dr. Harman explains why Jesus’ resurrection is so important: “It literally changed everything. And that is not only why we celebrate Easter, but it is why we gather every Sunday morning, because every Sunday morning is resurrection Sunday.”
The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, because of the events we celebrate at Easter. No longer are we slaves to sin but free through the blood of Jesus. “For God so love the world,” the Apostle John wrote, “that He gave His one and only Son.” Forgiveness was always God’s plan. “Easter is the ultimate rescue story,” writes Melissa Kruger. And though death has been defeated, Jesus will return. Easter celebrates what has been done, and what is still yet to come.
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Here Are 10 Ways to Celebrate Easter during the Quarantine for COVID-19
1.“Go” to Church
“Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:25
Mandatory quarantine has pushed weekend church gatherings online. God has faithfully gone before us to establish a network of technology to keep us connected, though we remain physically apart. Log on this Easter, and know even though we aren’t all physically together, we still gather in the presence of God. God promises, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20 ESV) Share the link to the service, for many who only attend church on major holidays, might not be as familiar with how to navigate to church online.
Follow any worship guidelines your church has sent out: songs to sing together, prayers to pray, etc. If you don't have a live stream to watch, do a quick search of local churches in your area; there's a good chance a few near you are doing live streams. You can also check Crosswalk's list of 7 live streaming churches (though there are many options beyond the list).
2. Read the Resurrection Scripture Passages
“Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” - John 20:26
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is recorded in all four of the Gospels: Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-53, and John 20:1-31. Taking time to read the Word of God aloud, or in private, is powerful. When we meet God in His Word, He is faithful to reveal layers of His truth we may not have been privy to before. “The Bible is meant to deepen our personal relationship with Christ,” explains Tony Reinke for desiringGod.
Click here to read the biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in all four Gospel accounts and other biblical references.
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3. Sing Hallelujah!
There are many verses throughout Scripture about singing as a form of worshipping and celebrating our God. Even though our current quarantine status may not have us in the mood to sing praises, it’s good to worship God, even when things are literally in crisis mode. Singing is traditionally part of the Christian Easter celebration. Some denominations withhold the use of Hallelujah during the Lenten season leading up to Easter Sunday, emphatically singing it out to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Turn on some worship or Gospel music, and let the anthems of Easter fill the hallways of the house. Sing out! Christ is Risen!
4. Gather Virtually Together with Family/Friends
There is no replacement for the physical, face-to-face connection we crave as human beings created in the image of God. Thankfully, at a time when social distancing is the rule of the day, it cannot separate us from social interaction. Through the multiple outlets of technology available to many in modern society, connecting screen to screen is an outlet for social survival until the COVID-19 quarantine has been lifted. Just hearing another voice, seeing other faces is important. If it’s available, put forth an effort to connect with family and friends face to face in celebration of Easter. Many of us would be gathering together. Finding a way to gather in an online space helps keep our spirits up.
Be an encouragement to those who may be worried or unwell. Call them on the phone, start a video chat, or send an ecard.
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5. Spend Specific Time in Prayer for the Healing/Cure of COVID-19
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” - 1 John 5:14
Prayer and fasting are important facets of our faith. Christ prayed and fasted, and we are to follow His lead. In fact, Jesus Himself assumed His followers did both, actively. Prayer is powerful. God hears the prayers of the righteous. He may not always answer them directly or how we want Him to, but He is the God of miracles. Praying for a miraculous healing and cure of COVID-19 is important. Consider spending specific time, Easter Sunday, to pray for the stop of its spread, the healing of those infected, a cure, and protection for all those who have been exposed to the virus.
6. Make Homemade Treats / Gifts for Baskets
Easter baskets are a tradition in many households, especially of those with younger children. Though we aren’t frequenting stores for non-essential items right now, we can still bless those in our family with thoughtful baskets full of goodies. When we get creative with what we already have on hand, some of the best memories are made. Homemade baked goods and candies can be made if we have the right ingredients, and crafts and homemade cards can bring joy. You can also order some treats online if needed; many places have Easter candy on sale now.
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7. Plan an Egg Hunt
Plastic eggs filled with candy litter many homes and yards on Easter morning. The eggs don’t have to go empty because we are quarantined. They can be filled with messages of hope from Scripture, pieces of a puzzle, jokes to bring laughter, stickers to brighten up spaces, or candy you’ve ordered. Consider doing a scavenger hunt, to see who can find the most eggs of each color, or in a certain place, or within a certain amount of time.
Get creative, but don’t put too much pressure on traditional holiday activities. If you don’t have eggs it will be okay; if you don’t have candy it will be okay. It’s doing things together that mean the most to all who participate. Kids will have just as much fun doing a family relay or obstacle course; remind them that God is to be enjoyed and that joy can be found in all circumstances because of Christ.
8. Prepare a Special Meal
Families and friends traditionally gather on Easter, many bringing different favorite recipes to share. It may be one of the only times each year extended families have the opportunity to reconnect and catch up with each other. With everyone celebrating separately this year, try to re-create one or two of those traditional dishes shared annually. Enjoy listening to what everyone’s favorites are and collecting the traditional recipes. At the very least, we can gather together with the people in our homes to prepare and share a meal. Reach out to those living alone to connect via facetime or video chat and “virtually” share a meal.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be the traditional Easter meal you would have had with a larger family celebration. If you have some ingredients to make some of your family’s favorites then go for it, and if not create something special and delicious with what you have. Again, your family will remember the time you have together and will understand if some traditional items are missing.
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9. Prepare the “Sidewalk”
Neighbors may not be allowed within arm’s reach of each other during quarantine and social distancing, but we are walking the neighborhoods. Adorning sidewalks with truth from God’s Word and bright pictures to brighten another’s day spreads the very love Jesus died to give us. We are blessed when we are a blessing. It lifts our spirits to encourage another. Draw the promises and truths of Easter up and down the sidewalk, driveway, or front steps. Trace the shape of a cross, and “He is risen!” Those who can’t leave their homes and those who go on safe walks will appreciate the messages of encouragement.
10. Start a New Tradition
“It hasn’t felt this erie since September 11th,” my husband said to me as the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and our children's’ schools were closed. He was right. For our generation, we will never forget that day. It felt like a movie, a dream, much like it does many days now when we wake to pandemic life. We remember how some things were forever changed after September 11th and expect that some aspects of our old “normal” will never return post-pandemic. In the wake of this entire season that will mark so many generations, both now and to come, start a new tradition to foster an appreciation for what we still have.
You can watch a movie together in a fort of blankets you all helped to build. Here’s a list of family-friendly movies to watch during the quarantine.
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A Prayer to Pray This Easter
The celebration of Easter cannot be dampened or drowned out by the COVID-19 pandemic. You are not surprised by it, and You know what tomorrow will bring. Help us to remember Your goodness, and the truth of Your promises, amidst the fear and unknown days we are traversing now. Remind us to bring our fear and worry to You, and trust You to carry us, sustain us, heal us, provide for us, and be with us …always. Father, You don’t shame us for feeling scared and alone, but You are apt to remind us You are here with us.
Bless us, this Easter. Keep us healthy and heal all of those infected by the pandemic virus. Heal, cure, and stop it’s spread.
In Jesus’ powerful name we pray, Amen.
God’s plan was always forgiveness, and He accomplished it through His Son, Jesus Christ. The perfect work no one else was fit to perform, Christ executed. Died, buried, and risen from the dead, Jesus sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us in prayer, guiding us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No evil can minimize the gospel, nor stop it. “Jesus rose to prove that God is sovereign even over the worst ever in the world (Acts 2:23),” explains John Piper.
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