April 5, 2020, began a Holy Week like no other in our lifetime.
Palm Sunday was celebrated, not with children singing “Hosanna” and waving palm branches in unison, but with families watching preachers via the Internet. Some families found branches of greenery and brought them inside, but many others, I imagine, barely recognized that it was Sunday, much less the beginning of Holy Week.
As the Coronavirus pandemic and physical distancing enters its Nth week (depending on where you live), we approach the most important week of the Christian year with mixed feelings. Some people are settling into a new routine of working from home, distance education, and creative family time. Others struggle with a sort of “cabin fever,” anxiety, or hypochondria. (“Does this cough mean I have the dreaded virus?”) For those occasional trips to the grocery store, we’re trying various types of improvised masks. Instead of looking suspiciously at a person wearing a mask, I find myself having critical thoughts about those who aren’t wearing masks.
But Holy Week was never “normal.”
Jesus entered Jerusalem on the first day of the week riding a borrowed donkey and trampling the cloaks of an adoring public. By Friday, those same people mocked and jeered Him, shouting “Crucify!” And crucify Him they did.
But on Sunday, He demonstrated His power and divinity by leaving the tomb and appearing in person to His closest followers.
As we approach this unusual Easter–one where we will not be able to gather with our church “families” or even, in many cases, with our biological families–we have the advantage of knowing the outcome of the first Holy Week. What we don’t know is the outcome of this pandemic or how long it will last.
But we don’t need to know.
We have the knowledge and comfort of the words Jesus gave His disciples the night before He died: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid“ (John 14:27, ESV) and “In me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).
No matter what the world looks like on the other side of this pandemic (or tribulation), Jesus has promised us His presence. He has already overcome. Celebrate that this week.