Commentary: Will there be Easter? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The very first message I received after announcing the decision to suspend in-person worship at Claremont United Methodist Church came from Nora, a high school student who serves in worship most Sundays, often carrying the cross into the sanctuary as worship begins.

Do you think there will be Easter service still? I am very upset about the absence of church and what is happening in our world right now. I would be VERY upset if Easter was canceled.

Yes, dear Nora, there will be Easter.

Easter is alive in you right now.

Easter comes alive in every human connection.

Easter comes alive in all our senses, in our very being.

The triumphant sounds of brass ensembles, the vibrant sight of Easter lilies in the sanctuary, the cross lifted high, the Christ candle lit to shine through the darkness Easter lives in these shared experiences and memories. Memories of last Easter. Memories of any Easter we have ever shared anywhere with anyone. Memories of that first Easter morning that we share in sacred story every year on Easter Sunday.

Easter lives even in our longing now for these experiences.

Easter celebrates new life. New life that overcomes even our starkest moments.

Easter calls us to hope. To hope in one another, to hope in a future we cannot yet see or imagine.

Already on trees we see the buds and blossoms that we can imagine will be vibrant on Easter Sunday and beyond. Easter is alive in the natural world around us, inviting us to see beyond these earliest days of spring.

Our social rites of spring may be canceled spring sports, high school musicals, graduations, but Easter is not canceled.

Easter is alive in all the ways we reach out to one another across this social distance.

Easter is alive when grandparents video chat story time to grandchildren.

Easter is alive when the youth group meets on Instagram to share their highs and lows.

Easter is alive with every phone call made to connect with someone who lives alone.

Even in the midst of social distancing and sheltering in place, Easter lives in the new ways we are learning to show love and care for one another.

Easter is not canceled and neither is church.

The church is not a building.

The church lives wherever people of faith any faith share in love and hope.

The church lives in every social media post of beauty and words of encouragement.

The church lives in every text and phone call made to keep connection alive.

The church lives in new communications platforms like Zoom and old platforms like phone trees.

The pews were empty when we suspended in-person worship on Sunday, but the church was alive. The people prayed and sang in their pajamas from home. We offered gratitude for one another, and we confessed our fears. And in the many ways we experience and express our faith, we heard a holy invitation to receive new hope.

Our faith offers us an experience of strength and hope greater than ourselves. Our Higher Power. Our Divine Source of Life and Love. Our Creator. Our Christ. Our Holy Spirit.

And, the faith of many others in all the worlds religions calls them to experience strength and hope and love as well.

Passover is not canceled. Our Jewish friends will celebrate the freedom from slavery their ancestors in faith found when they followed Moses out of Egypt toward the Promised Land.

Laylat al-Qadr is not canceled. Our Muslim friends will celebrate the night the first verses of the Quran were received by the Prophet Mohammed.

Rama Navami is not canceled. Our Hindi friends will celebrate the birthday of Rama.

Wesak is not canceled. Our Buddhist friends will celebrate the Buddahs birth, enlightenment, and death.

And for those who practice no faith, for the spiritual but not religious, for the lapsed and the lingering, no one has canceled human kindness.

For all of us. No one has canceled human kindness.

Compassion and hope live now.

Human kindness lives now.

And so, dear Nora, there will be Easter.

Ristine is senior minister at Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, Calif. Before moving to the Los Angeles area, she was the pastor at Mission Hills United Methodist Church in San Diego. She also is a former editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune. Claremont United Methodist Church has temporarily suspended in-person worship, reaching out across the social distance via Facebook and YouTube.

Karen Clark Ristine, senior minister at Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, Calif.

(Courtesy photo )

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Commentary: Will there be Easter? - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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