When we think about the celebration of Easter, of course, we immediately think of Jesus’ death and rising in fulfillment of scripture. It is a time of rebirth, a renewal of our baptismal promises and celebration. For most of us, last year (and most likely this year) the celebrations look a little different. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many are attending virtual services and participating in smaller gatherings so it may feel off or ‘meh,’ as my son would say. I have been struggling with this blog for that very reason because, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to dig in and find reasons to rejoice when we’re faced with conflict.
As I write this, it’s early March, it’s cold, the kids are navigating middle and high school with the challenges that presents. Friends have been sick, we’ve quarantined on & off when necessary, haven’t seen cousins we are close with, and haven’t even met our newest one. We know many affected financially and a few that have had to say goodbye to loved ones. This has been incredibly hard for so many. I checked in on my mom this afternoon as she just received her second vaccination this week. Kind of a big deal: she is in her late 70’s and my Dad is 81 with several high-risk health issues, but both are now fully vaccinated. I called her this morning to check in on how she was feeling, suspecting ‘fatigue’, ‘soreness’, etc. While she had a bit of that, her overall response was how relieved she felt. In her words, “like she was coming out of a dark place, a weight lifted off.” Now, my parents will still be diligent in following safety protocol. However, the sense of new hope or a fresh start was evident through our conversation. As the day went on and I reflected on our chat, I thought of the stone being pulled away from Jesus’ tomb and the opportunity for rebirth or renewal of faith. Faith in the Lord, but also faith in our future and the glimmer of a new season of hope and light.
Your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear” Isaiah 58:8 (NIV).
When Isaiah was writing this there was great civil unrest and the practice of idolatry under the leadership of the current kings included outdated practices. (Moses who?) All this while anticipating the invasion of the Assyrians. This prophesy reflects hundreds of years of history as well as God’s plan. While there are references to dark times and His chosen turning away from God’s covenant, there are nuggets of inspiration reminding us of the Messiah’s role in the salvation of His people. Isaiah 52:2 tells us “Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” I have had moments of neglect in my relationship with the Lord throughout the past year and I know I’m not alone. Re-evaluating our Easter remembrance and celebration poses the opportunity to look for those moments of renewal and the promise of a better tomorrow. Reflection on our personal relationship with Jesus presents the opportunity for the renewal of our covenantal promises to God.