Every liturgical year, the high point for me is when we first cry out together:
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!
This year, we will not hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces as we cry those words. And yet, it is so crucial for us to remember that we shout these words of praise and thanksgiving in one voice, not just as IHS but as the Body of Christ universal.
Many of you this year are experiencing stress, loneliness, fear, sickness, struggle, confusion, doubt, grief, or some combination of these feelings as the spread of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness keeps us in our homes or, for some, out of work. And though this situation is truly tragic, and though it feels intense to us now, in truth it is not new.
The COVID-19 health crisis reminds us of a truth about humanity, a truth at the heart of the season of Lent: that we are mortal. We are dust, and to dust we will return. Sickness, disease, and death are part of this age. And God’s answer now during this crisis and always is the same.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s answer to our mortality, God’s answer to sickness, sorrow, grief, and death. The Church’s great cry of “Alleluia!” is the shout of the New Creation, where there is no sorrow, pain, suffering, or death, and there is life everlasting. The season of Easter we now enter teaches us and reminds us that the life of the age to come, the Resurrected Life of Jesus Christ, is available to us today. We receive it by the grace of our baptism and the gift of God’s indwelling and transforming Spirit given to us. And we continue to receive it when we abide in him.
We can face the situation we now find ourselves in with courage just as we face every day of the Christian life with courage, resting assured in the victory of the Son of God over death. He rose victorious from the grave, and defeated once and for all our enemies the Devil, Sin, and Death. Their sting is gone, and they no longer have power over us who have been baptized and born again as members of the household of God, redeemed by him, reconciled to Him by His victory.
This is our hope. As it says in the Book of Common Prayer, “the Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God's purpose for the world.” Our assurance is the same, now as ever. “Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.”
I pray you experience that confidence, assurance, and hope during this time of crisis, and that it gives you strength and courage. And I pray that the love and presence of Christ Jesus our Lord be with each and every one of you and with those you love, this Easter, and always.