Holy Week in a pandemic: Easter Day

5.45am I am awake to make sure that the link to the sunrise service is posted on the Facebook pages. Usually there is a dawn service outside Holy Trinity, complete with a fire, songs, readings, prayers and bacon butties! Right now, I can hear the birds singing and it is beautiful. I’m not sure that I will manage to stay awake from my nice cosy bed though…

9.45am I did go back to sleep. Nathan and I have watched the St Peter’s service (link here) from bed. The service was so good and the sermon made me cry! I doubt that doing Easter together and from home will be able to happen again until we retire, so we are making the most of being able to watch services in our pyjamas!

12.00pm What a cracking morning! At half 10 we went downstairs to see the Holy Trinity and St Michael’s service and we then had after service coffee on Zoom! It was so good to see lots of people! The link to our service is here. I’m now going to get dressed and be sous chef to Nathan, who is prepping the roast in the kitchen.

3.30pm I am thoroughly stuffed and very content. We’ve eaten a glorious beef roast dinner, opened a bottle of red and enjoyed a Zoom chat with the Thorpes.

I hadn’t realised how much I needed the joy and light of Easter in this time. Lockdown in Lent has been quite tricky. Today, at least, Lockdown in Easter seems easier.

I can’t help but think about Easter Day 2019. It was my first Easter as a priest. It was my first Easter when I could drive myself between services. I chose to preside with Champagne and Chambord instead of the traditional red wine and water. I took a bottle of bubbly to both St Michael’s and Holy Trinity, and enjoyed hearing the cork pop as I explained that we were having a big celebration.

I had also heard that one of my dear friends had been told that their illness wasn’t as bad as previously thought, and all was going to be fine. In this dizzy and happy state, I did the services for the day. ‘Christ has risen!’ I proclaimed out loud and with all of my heart. To top it all off, we went out for lunch with our families and had a glorious afternoon in the garden chatting, drinking wine and eating Polly’s amazing Easter cake.

With the image of that 2019 Easter Day at the front of my mind, I approached this Eatser with some caution. It would certainly be different. That person with the good news about their illness? They are no longer with us. Church? Closed. Champagne in communion? You’re having a laugh. Family for lunch? Not this year.

But, actually, to my surprise, it’s been lovely. Nathan and I had a roast, just the two of us, which we didn’t manage at Christmas. We’ve had a Zoom chat with the Thorpes and we will chat with the Richards crew later. Church happened. It might have been very different, but it absolutely happened, and it was fab.

And death? That person who died and I miss so much? Well, when such a loving Christian person passes into God’s nearer presence, as sad as it makes us, it is to be celebrated. When Jesus rose from the grave, he defeated death. That is, he fully smashed it to bits. Because of Jesus, death is not final. Death is not the end. Through Jesus, we grieve with hope, because this life, this world, this grief, this panic, this anxiety, this lockdown, This. Is. Not. It.

Like the daffodil growing in the weeds in the picture at the top, Jesus is the light shining in the darkness.

Would I have rather had my last Easter in Formby in church? Of course I would. Would I have loved to have our families over again? Blimey, yes. Would I rather have sung with a big congregation while the organ blasted out ‘Thine Be The Glory’ than sing just Nathan and I in our house, which, let’s face it, has pretty bad acoustics in comparison? So, so much.

But in our isolation, Jesus is with us. Nothing, not even death can stop him. Like a light in the darkness, like a single daffodil growing in the weeds, Easter Day is hope in a pandemic.