“I feel so badly for the humans,” Cecile whispered to Addy as she slipped into the seat next to her just as the Easter Sunday church service was about to start.
“They can’t worship together anymore. Even for Easter, because of the corona virus.”
“Wow…it’s really affecting so much of their lives.”
“Yes, but they can worship with us, couldn’t they?” Cecile straightened her dress.
“I certainly don’t see why not!”
Pastor Stephan came out with musicians Lauryn and Julia.
Jesus Christ is Risen Today!
our triumphant holy day; alleluia,
who did once upon the cross; alleluia,
suffer to redeem our loss; alleluia!
Pastor Stephan spread his arms wide, a huge smile lighting up his face, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
“He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” None of the dolls mumbled like the humans sometimes did, they shouted in great exclamations.
Pastor Stephan began the service, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
“The reading for today comes from the gospel of Mark, the 16th chapter: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Do not be afraid,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Stephan began and then the congregation followed in prayer, “Our gracious heavenly Father,
“We confess that we have let the things around us cloud our vision and close our lips. We have relied on our own senses, thoughts, and deeds. We have failed to rely on Your promises. We have not loved You with our whole heart. By Your great mercy forgive us and assure us of the power of Your resurrection.”
Pastor Stephan held his arms out again, “By becoming one of us, to die for us, Jesus Christ has paid for all our sins. He showed that death itself cannot stand between us and His eternal promises.”
All the dolls sang with joy for that wonderful news!
Christ has arisen Alleluia! Rejoice and praise Him, alleluia. For our Redeemer burst from the tomb, Even from death, dispelling its gloom.
Let us sing praise to Him with endless joy; Death’s fearful sting He has come to destroy Our sin forgiving, alleluia! Jesus is living, alleluia!
Then Pastor Stephan gave his sermon, “Jesus is the only person to have His epitaph announced by angels. Weeping women and men came to his tomb to bury someone they loved, and to bury their hopes and dreams. They were defeated, afraid and depressed. But they were met by angels who said, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified, He is not here, for He is risen, just as He said!”
“What an epitaph! It’s something the world says no to: The world says no to resurrections, the world says no to living with victorious hope, the world is lost in disease and sickness, in sorrow, despair, violence and hatred. But the resurrection is real and it is NOW. Christ made it a reality for all people of all times. That’s why we say He IS risen and not He has risen. The resurrection says yes to victorious hope, yes to purposeful life and an eternal living, it says yes to forgiveness of sins. May you always remember Christ’s resurrection every day. Not just Easter day. May you be assured of the hope of salvation and eternal life in Christ Jesus. Because then, what have we to be afraid of?”
Again, the dolls were so full in their hearts, as they thought about so many of the humans who were in fear, stress, isolation and pain, and they burst into prayerful song:
In Thee is Gladness
Amid all sadness,
Jesus, sunshine of my heart.
By Thee are given
The gifts of heaven,
Thou the true Redeemer art.
Our souls Thou wakest,
Our bonds Thou breakest;
Who trusts Thee surely
Has built securely;
He stands forever: Alleluia!
Our hearts are pining
To see Thy shining,
Dying or living
To Thee are cleaving;
Naught can us sever: Alleluia!
Since He is ours,–
We fear no powers,
Not of earth nor sin nor death.
He sees and blesses
In worst distresses;
He can change them with a breath.
Wherefore the story
Tell of His glory
With hearts and voices;
All heav’n rejoices
In Him forever: Alleluia!
We shout for gladness,
Triumph o’er sadness,
Love Him and praise Him
And still shall raise Him
Glad hymns forever: Alleluia!
“Christ is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
‘Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began,
Bringing chaos and fear to all people, each land.
People were sick, hospitals full,
Doctors overwhelmed, no one in school.
As winter gave way to the promise of spring,
The virus raged on, touching peasant and king.
People hid in their homes from the enemy unseen.
They YouTubed and Zoomed, social-distanced, and cleaned.
April approached and churches were closed.
“There won’t be an Easter,” the world supposed.
“There won’t be church services, and egg hunts are out.
No reason for new dresses when we can’t go about.”
Holy Week started, as bleak as the rest.
The world was focused on masks and on tests.
“Easter can’t happen this year,” they proclaimed.
“Online and at home, it just won’t be the same.”
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the days came and went.
The virus pressed on; it just would not relent.
The world woke Sunday and nothing had changed.
The virus still menaced, the people, estranged.
“Pooh pooh to the saints,” the world was grumbling.
“They’re finding out now that no Easter is coming.
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
And then all the saints will all cry boo-hoo.
“That noise,” said the world, “would be something to hear.”
So it paused and the world put a hand to its ear.
And it did hear a sound coming through all the skies.
It started down low, then it started to rise.
But the sound wasn’t depressed.
Why, this sound was triumphant!
It couldn’t be so!
But it grew with abundance!
The world stared around, popping its eyes.
Then it shook! What it saw was a shocking surprise!
Each saint in each nation, the tall and the small,
Was celebrating Jesus in spite of it all!
It hadn’t stopped Easter from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the world with its life quite stuck in quarantine
Stood puzzling and puzzling.
“Just how can it be?”
“It came without bonnets, it came without bunnies,
It came without egg hunts, cantatas, or money.”
Then the world thought of something it hadn’t before.
“Maybe Easter,” it thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Easter, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
And what happened then?
Well….the story’s not done.
What will YOU do?
Will you share with that one
Or two or more people needing hope in this night?
Will you share of the source of your life in this fight?
The churches are empty – but so is the tomb,
And Jesus is Victor over death, doom, and gloom.
So this year at Easter, let this be our prayer,
As the virus still rages all around, everywhere.
May the world see hope when it looks at God’s people.
May the world see the Church is not a building or steeple.
May the world find Faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection,
May the world find Joy in a time of dejection.
May 2020 be known as the year of survival,
But not only that –
Let it start a revival.
-How the Virus Stole Easter by Kristi Bothur
Happy Easter everyone!