A Secular Easter Prayer

AST week a media outlet from New York (Refinery 29) asked me to offer some thoughts about how people can have a meaningful Easter experience. Here’s a link to the article that was published on Good Friday. The bit I was hoping to make it into the piece didn’t, so I thought I include my full comments here.

How have religious services changed since coronavirus?

The most significant change to religious services since the coronavirus pandemic is the limitation on gatherings. Community is at the heart of the Christian faith. While many things can be conducted online, there are important elements of Christian worship that cannot be merely streamed, such as baptism and the taking of communion, what some churches call The Lord’s Supper.

What are some options people have if they want to celebrate Easter in a safe way?

While most churches have broadcast services online for a few weeks now, I’ve heard of many Easter services that will be held in church parking lots with members able to see one another in their respective vehicles while they listen to a set radio station to hear the service. Some churches have advertised that their stage will be set up on top of a building visible from the parking lot where the worship band and pastor will be amplified for anyone in a close proximity to hear.

Why are these measures important?

Jesus called us to love God and love others. We cannot love others well if we act in ways that possibly endanger their health by spreading the coronavirus. Additionally, the Apostle Paul urged Christians to obey the government in matters that don’t violate the Christian faith. In short, it is not in keeping with New Testament teachings for Christians to be reckless in their conduct and disregard the direction of government officials.

How can people make their Easter experience as authentic as possible during this time?

It is impossible to have an authentic Easter experience, in a gathered service or online, without considering the historical claims central to the Easter message. Easter is the true story of how the author of life once entered the plot he created. Jesus’s perfect life and bloody sacrifice demonstrate the length to which God would go in order to offer the world forgiveness.

The best way a person can have an authentic Easter experience is to consider, and perhaps even embrace, the divine love and forgiveness made possible by this Jewish carpenter who said he was the Son of God, whose claims were validated when his crucified body walked out of an empty tomb. Like in the Wizard of Oz when the film turns from black and white into full color, the resurrection of Jesus fills the world with purpose and meaning. The resurrection event doesn’t show the world that nothing else matters, rather, that now everything matters.

My encouragement to anyone wanting to reflect on the meaning of Easter would be to read the twentieth chapter of John’s gospel and to say a simple prayer asking God for wisdom to understand the depth of the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the resurrection of Jesus.