Can we still celebrate Easter while we are under COVID-19 restrictions?
Easter time is usually a time of getting together and celebrating, but with the current social distancing restrictions placed on us, this is not a possibility.
Basically, we are to stay at home. So, does that mean we cannot celebrate Easter?
No, we can celebrate Easter if we consider the nature of Easter. It is essentially about new life, symbolised in the Easter egg, the rabbit (a prolific breeder) and the butterfly.
These symbols direct us to the Christian story of Easter, the new life which is given to us following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Christian Easter story can be found in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible.
They share the similarities of Easter Day being on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, a woman or women going to an empty tomb, the presence of an angel or angels, and the directive to tell the disciples that Jesus is alive.
Matthew’s Gospel differs in the emphasis on the presence of God in the Easter event.
This should not surprise us as the Gospel of Matthew begins and ends with the assurance that God is with us, in the birth of Jesus called Emmanuel and translated ‘God is with us’, through to the ascension of Jesus where Jesus tells his disciples, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
On Easter Day, Resurrection Sunday, Matthew describes God’s presence in the occurrence of an earthquake, an Angel of the Lord appearing like lightning descending from heaven to earth and rolling back the stone of the tomb to show the secured tomb is now empty, and the guards of the tomb shaking and becoming like dead men.
Jesus, who was dead, has risen from death and is alive again in a new way. Jesus’ resurrection was not a mere resuscitation, but a transformation into a new sort of physicality, a body that somehow lives in earth and heaven simultaneously.
It is the beginning of a new creation which will only be complete when heaven and earth are fully married.
Matthew’s Easter story shows that Jesus is with us after his death by recording that Mary and the other Mary meet Jesus outside the tomb, speak with him, and are empowered to go and tell other disciples.
At the time of writing, Matthew’s community was involved in the mission of telling the good news about Jesus, doing so in the power of Jesus’ Spirit following his resurrection.
Matthew’s Easter story reminds us that God is with us. We, like the women at the tomb, are to go and tell others the good news that Jesus is alive, God is with us.
We can still celebrate Easter while we are under COVID-19 restrictions because Easter gives us the good news that Jesus is alive, and his living Spirit is with us giving us hope and love in our troubled world.
Easter blessings, Michele Lees, Echuca Moama Uniting Church