This is Pastor Tim’s Article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, April 13, 2020
Well, that certainly wasn’t the Easter we expected, was it? This is my 45th Easter and I literally never had one like this one. I didn’t go see my family, I didn’t hunt any Easter Eggs, and I didn’t even gather for a church service. I mean this question sincerely: What in God’s name is going on?
I am very happy to report, that question has a very specific answer.
While this may not have been an Easter like any of us ever remember and it certainly was not the Easter any of us wanted, we have been finding new ways to be not only the Body of Christ during this season of COVID-19 but we have also found new ways to be community together. Social distancing may be a new thing, but it has not driven us apart.
Within days of the quarantine, Wayne Street started an online book study that meets every night at 8:00PM. We are finishing up the book we started this week and we will begin a Bible study this Wednesday night. Search Wayne Street UMC on YouTube and feel free to join us for the discussion. I may have just recorded the smallest attendance for an Easter Sunday in my career (attendance: 0) but I lead a nightly Bible Study with 30-40 in attendance every night. That isn’t weekly, that is nightly. I have never experienced that before.
A few days ago, I helped assemble hot meals at the Council on Aging office that were distributed to elderly folks in our community. They were delivered by the Highway Patrol. I had never done that before.
A few days ago, I got an email from Lisa and Helena Bills, attendees at Wayne Street. They came over and decorated a couple of our exterior doors for the Easter season. They did that knowing that no one was even going to be here to see it, but they decorated it so that the people driving by Wayne Street will see some of their artwork celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection in full Rider colors. That was a first for me.
In an effort to keep people at safe distances, our Awaken Band at Wayne Street put together an online music collaboration that lead our Awaken service yesterday. It was incredible. While nothing can take the place of actually being together, it was quite a blessing to everyone who tuned in to the YouTube premier yesterday morning as well as any of you who might want to check out our YouTube channel.
Let’s be entirely honest, the quarantine and social distancing measures is a half of a cup of water. The question we all need to consider is that cup half empty or half full? I am a pastor who just missed out on some of the biggest attendance Sundays of the year by having our local churches all closed. That is going to destroy any attendance averages I had hoped to maintain for 2020 as well as really hurt us in meeting our annual budget. That is the cup half empty. Or, I could celebrate that fact that the people of this community have spent more time as families over this past month than they have maybe ever. By missing normal life for the past month, I know that every single one of us is going to go back to normal life when these restrictions are lifted with appreciation we would not have had without this experience.
And the best part of all of this is that even though we did not get to celebrate Easter in any of the traditional ways we all love, what we celebrate for Easter is still a reality. The truth is, when those women approached the tomb on that first Easter Sunday, they found one rolled stone, an angel and some graveclothes someone took off. Jesus had risen because the power of death could not contain Him. He rose to show us what our fate will be and thanks be to God, He has no need to practice social distancing for any reason. We may not be able to gather together, but we still had a very special reason to celebrate this weekend.
Happy Easter to all of you, I hope that even though so much of our lives are disrupted right now that you still found plenty of reasons to be thankful on this very special Holiday.