When I first realized that we would be under “shelter-in-place” orders during Easter, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. I’ve missed worshipping alongside my church family in person, and to not be with them on such a day of celebration was discouraging. I began to remember all the other unmet expectations of this Easter season—no neighborhood egg hunts, no big family dinners, and the loss of so many other traditions I had hoped to enjoy with my daughter this year.
After I let myself grieve again the losses from this global pandemic, I reminded myself that our celebration of Resurrection Sunday is not centered around egg hunts, new dresses, or even a physical church gathering. Christ is risen in April 2020 amidst a global coronavirus pandemic just as he was risen last year, and as he was risen over 2,000 years ago. I began to think about how to make this particular day of quarantine, Resurrection Sunday, a true celebration despite it looking quite different than past Easters.
Keep the Sabbath
With many people working from home, it can feel like there is no weekend. Work is always available on the computer in the next room, there are no parties to anticipate, and laundry is never-ending (especially with a potty-training toddler). Sunday can sometimes seem like a Monday—representing another week separated from those we love. But we can choose to make Sunday a Sabbath, a day of rest dedicated to God.
Wrap up your work on Saturday (that even includes dishes and laundry!) so that you can enjoy intentional time with family and with the Lord on Sunday. We either order in food on Sunday, or I meal prep the night before so that we don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Do a fun family activity that you wouldn’t normally do on a normal day, whether that be a long walk outside or watching a movie (or two) snuggled up on the couch together. Enjoy God’s creation and enjoy his presence through spending time in the Word and prayer. I can tell such a difference in my week if I choose to truly rest on Sunday instead of seeing it as a “catch up” day before my week starts on Monday. Set aside this Resurrection Sunday especially to be a day dedicated to resting in the finished work of Christ.
Incorporate Easter Traditions
You may not be able to participate in church-wide Easter festivities, but you can certainly create miniature versions of your favorite Easter traditions at home. By continuing these observances, you’re reminding your children and yourself that our celebration of Christ’s resurrection isn’t dependent on being in a certain place with certain people. We celebrate Christ no matter where we are and in whatever circumstances. If your church usually observes Communion, get the supplies to do it among just your family. If the children do a specific Easter activity or craft at church, do the activity with them yourself. Whatever you had planned to do with your church family, you can do it within your own home.
This might even be a great time to bring in new celebrations, such as baking resurrection rolls, celebrating a Seder, or creating Resurrection Eggs (this year, I’m using ideas from https://onethingalone.com/uncoveringthelove and https://abcjesuslovesme.com/ideas/easter). You can even keep some of the more secular traditions like egg hunts, Easter bunny, and dying eggs to make the day more special. The point is not the amount of activities that you do or how creative you are, but that you intentionally celebrate Resurrection Day with your family.
Resurrection Sunday ends the 40-day period of Lent, a somber time of fasting and prayer to remind us of our need for Christ’s atoning death. Easter Sunday is supposed to be a day of celebration, a feast among the church. And while you may not have a traditional potluck with your family or church, you can choose to feast with your immediate family.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy four-course Easter brunch, but choose special foods (that are easily prepared the night before) to serve to your family. In almost every culture, eating a special meal together is more than just filling the need of hunger, it is gathering around a table to enjoy one another and to remember a shared hope. The hope of our Resurrection feast is not about Spring coming (which is what many non-believers celebrate during Easter), but that Christ has defeated the sting of death. Whether your meal is delivered to your door, poured out of a box, or made from scratch, by feasting together as a family, you are pointing to the feast one day to come when God has wiped away the effects of sin forevermore.
Connect with Fellow Believers
I cannot imagine what social distancing would be like without technology. While I feel the pain of not getting to be physically present with family and friends, I am overwhelmed with gratitude every time I see their face pop up on a video chat. On Resurrection Sunday, schedule times to video chat with family and/or a small group from church. Greet each other virtually with, “Christ is Risen!” and “He’s risen indeed!”
If your church is not already live streaming their services, you’re welcome to worship online with us at Valleydale Church. If it makes you feel more celebratory, you can even put on that fancy frock you bought to wear on Easter Sunday. Whether you’re wearing black leggings or a bright dress, set aside time to worship God through singing songs and hearing God’s Word preached. We are commanded not to neglect meeting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and during this season of quarantine, you can continue to meet with them through technology. You may not get that perfect picture in front of your church doors, but you can still gather as the church via a livestream.
Remember the Gospel
Easter is not cancelled. The egg hunts might be called off. Restaurants that typically serve Easter brunch might be closed. Grocery stores may be limiting the amount of eggs you can buy. But Christ is still risen. We can still remember the Gospel truth, and remind those around us, on Resurrection Sunday and every day.
Humanity was separated by sin from our Creator, the Holy God of the Universe. There was no way we could earn our way back into his presence. Instead, he came down to us in the form of a baby, Jesus, the only human to ever live a perfect life. Christ Jesus died the death that we deserved, and three days later rose up from the grave conquering death, defeating sin, and making a way for us to be reconciled to God. While we are still on this earth, we will experience suffering, but we look forward to the day when Christ completes his work by coming back for his people.
As we are surrounded this year by stories of death, fear, and chaos, this is our Easter hope. This is what we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday. This is why Easter can never, must never, be forgotten.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!