Two thousand years ago, the friends of Jesus were experiencing social isolation. They had seen their friend and leader, arrested, tried and put to death. They were hidden away afraid of what might happen to them.Some women in the group decided to venture out early in the morning to anoint their dead friend’s body but,when they get to the tomb, he’s not there.Is it possible to imagine a more shocking scenario? Their world must have seemed like it had been completely turned upside down. A few weeks ago, we couldn’t have imagined being in this situation. All the plans were made for Easter, for the Tenebrae service on Maundy Thursday, the procession and open air service on Good
Friday, Experience Easter on Holy Saturday and coming together to celebrate the resurrection on Easter Day.
None of which have happened or will happen. Traditions old and new blown away by a virus. Our world is turned upside down in a different way.We are very good at tradition. I once had to ask a church to change the time of its Good Friday service. But we always have it at 11.00 came the response. I offered them a choice, 11.00 without me or 11.30 with me.Reluctantly, they agreed to move to 11.30. The following year circumstances had changed so I told them joyfully that they could move back to 11.00. No, we have it at 11.30 now. A new tradition had been born which, for all I know, may still be continuing.
Various people have kindly offered to provide services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Dayalthough we will not be able to share in Holy Communion together. The Methodist Church has declared that virtual communion is not an option, but I know other avenues including the possibility of a virtual love feast
are being explored. The Church has always had to adapt to difficult circumstances and must do so again. It is not a dead structure but a living organism consisting of God’s people.
The disciples were astonished to find that for Jesus, death was not the end. That message gives hope to everyone but not just in terms of looking beyond this life. Jesus offers hope, whatever situation we are in,because he stands alongside us. And at some point, we will be freed from this lockdown and allowed to meet together again. A couple of years ago, we celebrated Christmas in June. Let’s look forward to sharing that great Easter declaration that Christ is Risen from our own homes now but also together at some point in the future.Who knows, it might become a tradition.