As it is with most people, images imprinted over a lifetime of celebrating come to my mind. These have become what one would describe as “normal.” Some include:
Ubiquitous Easter candy filling store isles one month before, the Easter Bunny with anticipation for traditional easter egg hunts for children, Easter baskets filled with goodies and presents for loved ones the night before, Easter Sunday church services, Easter pageants during Holy Week, celebrating the Christian heritage of and meaning for the word “Easter.”
Jesus the Christ suffering in Gethsemene, his crucifixion on the cross, and rising from the tomb in resurrected glory set the stage for these latter-day celebrations begun 2,000 years ago. But, in the spirit of celebrating, perhaps we have focused upon the marketing of traditions more than meanings.
This week also marks “Passover,” the religious observance honoring the 12 Tribes of Israel being delivered from Egyptian slavery and the plague of death by sheltering in place in their homes and placing the blood of a lamb over the lintel and doorposts of their homes. The angel of death passed over those protected by the blood of the lamb and so at each Passover Seder today the question is raised: “What makes this night different from all other nights?”
Until a world sickness captured our attention and required each person on the planet to shelter in place, we may have moved into this week more concerned about stocking up on Peeps marshmallow candies, and the perfect family photo we were planning, and what we would have for Sunday’s dinner, and the rare appearance of the family together for one of two regular church services we attended each year.
I enjoy the normal and colorful traditions of the world surrounding this and all holidays. And as found in Christianity, I enjoy the reasons behind such a celebration as much as anyone. Anything that points to a greater good where child-like innocence, hope, peace, love, and friendship can be celebrated will find me “all in.”
Easter and Passover 2020 presents a wonderful opportunity for those who have left the faith part of the Easter and Passover traditions in the past. It also offers those who feel a need to renew their commitments to an Easter cause greater than the customarily marketed holiday fluff and stuff a chance to do so with greater focus.
This week — between Palm Sunday the 5th of April which signifies Jesus as King meekly entering Jerusalem upon a donkey before his sacrifice for sin, and Easter Sunday, April 12th, which celebrates Jesus the Christ triumphantly overcoming death for all mankind–presents a solemn and reflective time to be alone; something that “sheltering in place” to stem the tide of a deadly pandemic virus may have provided each of us in a way no other opportunity would have.
It provides the observant Christian an opportunity to place the blood of the Lamb of God, as Jesus is known, symbolically over their home through constant prayer seeking a pass-over of the scourge of a pandemic claiming the lives of many.
I am not a professional preacher, but I have been a volunteer minister and once upon a time decades ago a full-time missionary in an impoverished foreign land and have felt things. I participated in much personal, private, and spontaneously serendipitous events that greatly humbled me.
May I recommend to all those who have an appreciation for the Christian traditions of Easter, something I have called in one of my books, “a return to innocence.” We have socially distanced ourselves from one another, but perhaps we should do the opposite now with our God. A return to innocence involves belief and faith coupled with a simple and humble prayer given upon bended knee in a petition style like a child simply talks to a parent.
It may go something like this: “Father in Heaven,” followed by gratitude, and then asking for specific blessings of things you desire in this hour of need, ending with “in the name of Jesus the Christ;” simple and child-like.
This may be something that feels new, or odd, or even uncomfortable to some. To others, it may be the most “normal” thing they do daily. Whatever the reason behind such a private petition to God, “simple” is the most eloquent prayer — for it is also the most heartfelt and innocent.
Just as I wrote in the soon to be free read novel, “The Christ Report” I could cite supporting Bible passages for these words of mine, but that is not my purpose today.
My simple blog this day is to announce to the world in some literary form my witness that the Jewish son of Mary, Jesus of Nazareth from the house of Joseph, became the Messiah, and that his spiritual promises as found in the Holy Scripture called the Bible are real foundations for a unique “shelter in place” Easter — or as one friend Mary Jean Bentley of Texas called it, a “shelter in peace.”
May this and future Easters become a more inspiring hope-filled normal with a return to innocence, gratitude, daily supplications, and feelings of renewal as we seek to join a worldwide spiritual awakening of our souls to realities upon which, in the first place, our celebrating is based.
God bless you and keep you in a return to childlike innocence and humility before the present crisis confronting us all.