By Carly Berna
Remember last year when we thought the pandemic might pass in a few months and we would be going to church on Easter just like every other year? Here we are a year later and most of us are still at home practicing social distancing and watching church in our sweatpants.
Can you believe we have been watching church online for over a year now? At first, it was convenient, but you may have quickly realized it is just not the same experience as going to church. Perhaps you sit in your pajamas and tune in on your laptop hoping for a word of encouragement to get you through this season. There is just something about online church that is not the same as going in person. Being surrounded by fellow Believers, seeing friends, and feeling a part of the church body is important. Do not get me wrong, churches are doing their best! There are online chats, prayer opportunities, and digital note taking, which are all great technological advances, but we were made for community!
In Hebrews 10:23-25, Paul says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
In the Greek, the word for ‘meeting together’ is episynagōgē which literally means ‘a complete collection; especially a Christian meeting – assembling together.” It is important to gather as one body. Now, of course, Paul had no idea that we would be in a pandemic, and this verse does not mean you should break all social distance guidelines, but it does mean that the yearning for the gathering we once had should not be forgotten. The verse hints at the fact that some are in the habit on giving up meeting together. It would be easy to do this, especially in our current circumstances. Once life goes back to a ‘new normal,’ it will be easier to sit around at home just watching church, but that is not what we are called to do. We are to be in fellowship with each other; gathering, meeting, praying with each other, and serving alongside one another; we are to be in relationship with other Christians!
I encourage you to continue looking forward to the day you can fully engage in person, but this Easter may again be different. Paul did not know we were going to be in a pandemic when he wrote those words, but God did. Jesus still came, died, and rose for us and nothing can change that! You may be wishing for that Easter morning where the church is full, everyone is wearing bright colors, the best worship music is played, and we are all celebrating the resurrection of Jesus! It is one of the best days to attend church!
But there are still ways to celebrate Easter this year and keep that joy, whether you are alone or with others. Here are a few practical ideas:
- Set aside the day to CELEBRATE! – Make Easter more than just the 1-hour church service. Set the day apart from the rest of your week. Take a break from your phone, social media, and any other distractions so that you can focus on the importance of the day. Devote this time to the Lord, plan the whole day around what you can do to celebrate.
- Change your environment – If you are usually watching church on the couch or in bed, change it up! Decorate one of your rooms for Easter. Whether or not you are alone or with family, there is something worth celebrating so go all out and make it fun! You can put virtual church on the TV and make space to worship and dance like you would in person! In addition, not only can you change your surroundings, but change your own physical appearance and dress up like you were actually going to church! Give your sweatpants a break and pull out your Sunday best!
- Remind yourself of the Easter story – At church, often the Easter story is reenacted or there is a short video clip that gives a brief summary. Spend some time watching an Easter movie or listening to songs that remind you of Jesus’ sacrifice and the joy of the resurrection. One of the most important ways of remembering the Easter story is through communion. Do something special during communion on this day. Go out of your way to prepare a unique version of these elements. Maybe you have been using a cracker and water for the past year; instead, get some fancy bread and juice to celebrate the importance.
- Order out or prepare a special meal – Easter church is frequently followed by an epic brunch filled with all sorts of delicious foods and desserts you may not eat throughout the year. Since many restaurants are still at limited capacity, throw your own brunch at home. Order out from your favorite restaurant or look up a few Easter recipes online to try and make it a special occasion!
- Spend time with others – Since it is important to stay in fellowship, find ways to spend time with family or friends. If you are not living with others that you can spend time with, do a Zoom call. You can read the Easter story, listen to worship music, eat together, watch church online, or have a virtual watch party of an Easter story movie! Find a way to still have community even if it is virtual this year, while continuing to look forward to the day you can celebrate with your loved ones in person.
- BONUS: Do something out of the ordinary to celebrate! Get some balloons or confetti, eat a dessert you do not often have, put on worship music and dance around. Easter is the day Jesus beat death on our behalf and it is worth celebrating!
This year may be different than most of your past Easter celebrations, but make it one to remember. Do not let the pandemic rob you of the joy you have in Christ. Easter is a celebration and the key word is to CELEBRATE! I hope you find a fresh new perspective on the importance of Easter and you feel the joy of your salvation.