I was looking over some pictures of this year’s holy week throughout the world. Many featured people kneeling by the closed doors of their churches. Even my church’s doors are closed. It is going to feel unnatural, to not partake in the traditions—the early worship service by the river, having a church family breakfast, passing the pastor a package of paska. It is going to feel unnatural, to not see the people—shaking hands, having face-to-face conversations, greeting one another with a hearty ‘He is risen’. It feels unnatural all over to close the church doors at this height of Christian celebration. And yet…
Last year I wondered if I should take a sabbatical from paska bread. I love baking (and eating) paska, but I’ll admit it takes up quite a bit of time and energy during the Easter Weekend—and it was becoming a distraction. This year, my oven is empty. Rather by force, considering how hard it is to come by yeast these days. Having the paska bread, and so many of my other favourite Easter traditions, taken away makes me think a bit. In one way, it’s encouraging. No matter what is locked up, no matter what is closed, the celebration of the Risen Christ continues strong as ever.
Service may be cancelled, but the Church never is. People may be distant, but Christ never is. Today I sat down and wrote letters to some of the people I know I’ll miss seeing on Sunday. (I’ve often praised the virtues of snail-mail, but rarely do I send letters.) I hope those letters—more lasting than the regular side-hug—will ease the sense of isolation. Although physically distant, we will still be celebrating together. That was the encouraging thing about the pictures I mentioned previously. Although across the globe regular plans were cancelled or altered, across the globe people worked around things to remind each other:
He is risen!