What a heavy and difficult time it's been lately. With all the devastation of the past few weeks, it's hard to believe that Holy Week is upon us, and Easter is just a few days away. With no children parading down church hallways waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!" and only a streaming worship service to attend from the couch tomorrow morning, it just won't be the same.
COVID-19 has taken so much from us. It caught us unaware, sneaking into our world, stealing school and work and church and family, canceling sports and vacations and plans and church services and every single event written on our calendars, leaving death and sickness and anxiety and grief in its place.
But here's the truth that I keep coming back to and the hope that keeps me hanging on: no matter how thick the darkness of night, it can't stop dawn from coming.
It's relentless and faithful, the dawn, and it reminds me that no matter how hard the Enemy tries to steal and kill and destroy, Jesus came to give us life, and life more abundant than the one that we're currently living (John 10:10).
No pandemic can change that.
I know it's the wrong season to talk about the Grinch and how he tried to steal Christmas from the Whos, but I can't help but think that this present enemy looks and acts an awful lot like that old foe.
There will be no neighborhood Easter egg hunts, no Maundy Thursday Lord's Supper with the community of the faithful, no blooming cross in the church foyer to decorate, no special dress to put on, no sunrise church services to attend, and no family coming over for Easter dinner this year.
But just like the Grinch couldn't stop Christmas from coming, no enemy—not sickness, not death, not disease, nor even Satan himself—could stop Jesus from rising on that first Easter morn.
With Jesus dead and buried, the enemy thought surely he had won, but God crushed him under his heel. With the resurrecting power of God running through his immortal veins, Jesus rose from the grave to show us that he's stronger than our strongest enemy and greater than our greatest foe.
Death gave way to victory, and Easter came just the same.
Though we mourn and grieve and lament with those who suffer around the world, we also rejoice and worship and praise because we know that just as Easter came then, so it will come now, and it will keep on coming until Jesus himself comes back. And when that happens? The victory will be sweet indeed.
"He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'"
Amen and amen.