April 12, 2020

The Easteriest Easter We Have Ever Eastered
Easter Sunday, Year A
Becky Robbins-Penniman

Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

This year, more than any other year, the word “risen” stands out for me, because for something to rise, it first has to fall; Actually going through death is the only way Jesus could have a risen life.

This year, more than any other year, though, death has become much broader than the ending of an individual life. As a priest, the reality of the ending of a person’s life is sacred. Journeying with a person to their last breath, weeping with a family after the mysterious stillness of death begins, these are some of the most poignant times of ministry.

This year, death is bigger. Of 1.8 million infected by a brand-new virus, COVID-19, over 10% have died, and that’s all since January 11 . . . just 93 days ago. We all have stuff in our refrigerators that’s been there longer than that. All the usual reasons people die are still around, of course: heart disease, car accidents, overdoses, gun violence. but we’ve kind of gotten used to those. They are part of our human landscape. This new cause of death is like a scene from Independence Day or Star Wars – an enormous alien spacecraft so huge it covers the entire sky and blocks the sun.

The deaths this virus caused weren’t only those of people, it has ended normalcy. Our very reality has shifted in 3 months, and it isn’t done shifting yet. For us in the US, the loss of normalcy began just about the same time Lent did, in late February-early March. When the impact of the pandemic began steamrolling through our lives and calendars.

The Rev. Jay Sidebotham, an Episcopal priest whose blog I read, wrote in the Monday of Holy Week that a friend had commented about 2020, This is the lentiest Lent I’ve ever lented.

That resonates with me, especially this Holy Week. All the plans I had honed over 20 years of ministry were swept away in a moment. Rituals and events that focused on an ancient story of God’s grace in times of oppression, plague and the death of the innocent, stories from thousands of years ago that in many ways seemed pretty remote, had to be interpreted for a day where suddenly pestilence once again stalks and upends lives, economies, schools, families, and a whole lot of our assumptions.

The question this Sunday, this Feast of the Resurrection, this celebration of the foundation of our Christian faith, is whether we can truly embrace what we ask God to do in our Collect today: Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ.

Read the full sermon text with images HERE.

Our traditional Sunrise Service, Breakfast Buffet, and Easter Egg Hunt are each postponed until next year.