A Very Different Easter.

“The greatest gift we find at Easter is not the chocolate rabbit or the colored eggs–It is HOPE.” -Nick Palisch (2020)

When you awoke this morning, you found ourselves blessed with another day. It is Easter Sunday. As that thought crossed our minds, did we find ourselves saying “so what” or do we rejoice? For many, today is truly a day of rejoicing.

For others, it is just another day of “so what” and how can I rejoice in the midst of the pandemic? You can. Hope and Faith remains. In fact, faith makes a huge difference.

Faith, not only makes a difference in how we understand today and the significance of what we celebrate, it makes a huge difference in terms of how we understand ourselves. Succeed, live well, be productive, find your niche, follow your dreams, make money, protect your social status, be politically correct, and keep your preferences to yourself are pretty good examples of the messages our secular life wants us to hear. In and of themselves, they don’t sound all that harmful. But when really examined, they are. The life of resurrection embodied in the Gospel tells us a much different story.

Life keeps us busy.

Truth be told, we are always connected, distracted, occupied, and working. For many of us, an agenda awaits us before we even start our day, and unfinished stuff is brought with us when we retire at night.

 Make the best of life and find your own road to happiness. The “so what” response to the new day and new life from the resurrection of Jesus is often the result of believing that life is only what I make it. Some of us believe that what God has to say isn’t important to securing your next pay raise, next step in life, finding love, having children, and celebrating good times. Sadly, we live as if the grave is the end of who we are.

While we may give the wonder of heaven a blink now and then, its glory really does not impress us or in fact, matter all that much anyway. It is all about the here and now, and what do I need to do today to get where I want to be tomorrow. We tend to put off considering the one significant “tomorrow” that will come the millisecond after we take our last breath.

 When that happens, will we want to be thinking “so what?” or do we rejoice in the day?

There is only one Jesus, one mission, and only one resurrection. Fact is, there is also only one of us.

Have you ever pondered what one solitary, humble human life can do? Faith, not our world, tells us how special we are.

We are not robots.

We are not replaceable.

We have one shot.

There are no do-overs.

Love is at our core and unites us together as one with the God of love who so desperately wants us to be with Him forever. This may not match our secular agenda, but it ought to make our true inner agenda leap for joy. There does not need to be an end, when we can live forever.

Our world and our life has changed suddenly.

Suddenly we slept in one world and we woke up in another.

Disney is no longer the Magic Kingdom.

Paris is no longer romantic.

Frank Sinatra said New York was the city that never sleeps; we now find everybody is asleep.

The Great Wall of China is no longer a fortress.

Suddenly, hugs and kisses have become weapons, holding hands walking in the parks have become outlawed. Suddenly, visiting aging parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones becomes an act of war. Suddenly, those with preexisting conditions become more vulnerable and a target for the enemy.  Suddenly, those on the front lines helping the sick and the dying became heroes, but also became separated from their family in an effort to protect them from the virus.

 Suddenly, much of the hate and violence becomes fear and seclusion.  Suddenly we realize that we are powerless, and the one true sense of power is with God alone. Suddenly we realize that even money has no value if you cannot buy toilet paper and any other necessities.

Suddenly we have been put back in place by the hands of the universe. Two days ago, we celebrated Good Friday and most Christians realize it is not the end of the story, in fact Easter concludes the story. The Corona virus is not an end of the story; in fact, the best is yet to come.

Be an Easter person.

Be an Easter person today and during the rest of this pandemic. Be an Easter person for the rest of your life. Just like the grave could not hold Jesus, do not let corona virus hold you and don’t let the virus paralyze you.

Do not let the corona virus define you as a victim. You are better than that. Instead, be a witness to the hope and the joy of peace represented by Easter.

While many of us can’t be with our family and friends to celebrate Easter with a nice dinner or egg hunt, we still have the ability to rejoice in the spirit that our family, our friends, our life is truly a blessing.  Distancing that we have been experiencing for weeks now is a struggle, it is creating tension, sadness, loneliness, and even the ability to remember what today is?  Pick up the phone, call and hear the voices of those you love and talk about life and the good times shared and the outlook of the future.

The act of being able to walk in and walk out of stores is constricted; In fact, going into a grocery store is now limited by how many people can enter at a time.  Limits are placed on the popular items and many of the shelves sit empty.  Staff trying to replenish, but like with Easter Sunday and the tomb of Jesus—they are empty. 

People walk with mask and gloves to protect themselves and others, and to those who are in denial and refuse to understand they are not exempt from the corona virus may give you a look and may chuckle or make comments.  Think about the time Jesus walked to his death, being laughed at, mocked, spit on, and beat, crowned with thorns— he never gave up.  He walked the long road ahead with faith that he would return to the father in heaven.  Like Jesus, we too, must walk the road and be subjected to laughs, looks, and even hatred, but we must remember we are doing what we have to in order to be protected.  Let us not be a fool and disregard our safety just because some may not think it is cool.

The ability to live our “normal” life is uprooted, but Easter gives us hope that if we believe, if we maintain our faith, despite the world events, we will soon be able to return to a new sense of normalcy, a new and possibly changed world.  Maybe people will be nicer to one another; we will take care of one another instead of bringing them down or bullying.  We will accept each other.  Maybe the world will add more God and less politics.  Maybe people will appreciate the simple necessities of life and remember that someone somewhere has gone without the necessities we now find ourselves lacking. 

Death is happening and sadness and fear remain, but if we all stop, despite whatever faith we have and take the think and reflect for a moment that when we all believe that a new form of togetherness has been created through social distancing may allow each of us to value each other more and more.  The time is now to put people above material items. The time is to love, not hate.  The time is to put away our differences and support one another.  The time is to stop making this a political soapbox and realize that a more profound message is being shared and we must listen.  We must be vigilant, just like the people who visited the tomb of Christ.  We must find our faith and hold to it tightly because these times can drain it faster than it can be replaced.

The world ahead is not black or white, rather it is filled with uncertainty, the unknown, the questions, the fears, the division, and today marks the rebirth of us through Easter.   

Easter, my friends, is a time to rejoice.  A time to reflect, a time understand that we all have the ability to rise above and not remain trapped in the idea our lives are ruined—but rather our lives are being changed, and perhaps for the better.  It is hard to feel the restrictions that are placed on each of us, because we have been able to do what we wanted when we wanted to, but think about this—maybe time is not according to us, but a higher power.  Rejoice my friends in that today is a new day and things are changing.  Do not lose hope.  Do not lose faith, and do not stop praying.   

Faith is not black and white.  It is pure.  It resonates deep inside our soul and when we allow our faith to show, we allow changes and hope to be restored stronger and better than ever before.  We must rejoice and not be sad because our plans were shattered, or our lives displaced, or no sports are on TV.  We must rejoice for today is the day the Lord has made and we are tasked only with finding the purpose of why we are alive. 

May you each find a reason to rejoice today and not lean on the “so what” about today. Celebrate through rejoicing and faith that tomorrow will bring change. Celebrate that our lives remain in tact, despite the setback of the virus. Don’t let the virus become your crutch. Live. Rejoice. Celebrate the reason of Easter–HOPE.

Happy Easter and much love,

Nick (2020).

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