All my visions and plans for grand celebrations have crumbled. It’s Holy Week and I’m still not sure even today how Dennis and I will mark these two historic, world-changing events at home, just the two of us. The Coronavirus is still lurking.
“Sheltering in place” is affecting everyone’s sense of well-being. In recent conversations I’ve heard confusion about what day it is … I’ve heard women express unusual fatigue from living on high alert … and I’ve sensed much less confidence from everyone on making decisions about tomorrow. Living in isolation has already reinforced old truths: live day by day, depend on God for His daily supply of manna, and create new shelter-at-home rhythms.
The Bread of Life taught us to “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). A taste of the early church is now ours as we gather “house to house” for Sunday teaching and worship. Living by pre-planned schedules has ceased. Booking ahead … stopped.
Are You, God, inviting us to a deeper Good Friday? Are the extra time and multiplied losses in our lives ushering us into our own mourning coinciding with the memory of Yours? Lost jobs and wages … lost senior years, sports, entertainment … lost freedom to assemble, to touch those we love, to be near.
Death always precedes new life.
We are not the first people since 33 A.D. to mark the anniversary of the cross in hiding, retreat, surrounded by death.
Our impotence before this virus has halted our independence. Therefore, this year’s Holy Week may be the most meaningful we’ve ever known.
Ideas for making Good Friday holy:
1. Download and watch the film, Jesus, or the original Ten Commandments movie. You will have all day so watch Moses early in the day and Jesus in the afternoon or evening. Then share communion and Passover together as a family or with your spouse: In both movies Passover is associated with death.
2. Ask everyone in your household to make a list of the new “deaths” in your life. Loss, another word for death, is the experience of having something valuable taken away. God may restore many of these losses to us one day, but today … what does He want you to learn today in their absence? What seeds can this experience plant in your heart, in your soul that can blossom into a likeness of Jesus?
3. Read Jesus’ last prayer from the cross in Luke 23:34. Then individually ask God who you can forgive. In the face of death—and by this weekend many of us will know someone who is in ICU or has died from the virus—our grievances seem petty.
4. End your day by singing a hymn or a chorus or play one and sing with it.
Create meaning in Easter at home
Unlike previous generations separated by geography, we can be together through Zoom and FaceTime and video. Take full advantage of these creative venues for gathering. Dennis and I have already experienced connections in these channels … a taste of community without being together. Easter Sunday has always been gathering to celebrate and rejoice in the victory of Christ’s resurrection.
Here are a few creative ways others plan to make Resurrection Day holy and celebratory.
1. A friend of mine said, “I bought my girls new dresses and by golly they are going to wear them! We are not celebrating Easter in pajamas!” PJ’s are fine for Christmas morning, but Easter is all about being made new in Christ. So wear those new clothes, find something white, declare your joy by dressing for the occasion. Gather noise makers (tambourines, bells, even stadium pom poms) and parade around your yard or street (with another family at safe distances) shouting hallelujahs!
2. My oldest, Ashley, is making her boys (all seven of them), take showers and get dressed every Sunday before they listen to the sermon. She said, “Sunday is the Lord’s Day, the Sabbath, and I want you to look nice and be clean. It’s one way we honor the Lord and it represents giving Him our best.”
3. Download and play our Easter playlist … all day … loudly! Even though the virus is still spreading, the Resurrection is eternally true. Our lives have been redeemed! Celebrating even on a smaller scale is one way we can express our gratitude for His work on the cross.
4. Light your candles and bring in flowers from your yard or grocery store. I’ll be sprinkling red rose petals on Good Friday around my Holy Week Behold the Lamb candles and replacing with white flowers on Sunday. Flip your “Waiting on the Lamb” banner to the gold and white “I am the Resurrection and the Life” side. Here’s a quick video with some more ideas for decorating your Easter table.
5. My youngest, Laura, said her neighbors are gathering in the cul-de-sac on Easter Sunday. They plan to bring lawn chairs, sit six feet apart and sing worship songs together. and share a portion of the day together.
6. Susan, a friend in Virginia, said she and her husband will gather with two other couples who are dear friends and share a simple prayer and worship time on their deck, seated six feet apart.
Dennis and I are planning a Zoom room for Resurrection Day so we can “be with” all our kids and grandkids even for a short amount of time. We will taste togetherness. This is what Easter is all about—a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb. Jesus promised, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
This year we will all be #HomeforEaster. We’d love to see photos of how God provides ways for you to celebrate, gather in small groups, and make much of His Resurrection victory for us. Post pics of your family with the hashtag #HomeforEaster and tag @everthinehome.
May you and yours become #easterpeople for whom the cross is everything. Because of Jesus we have #hope.
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!