A New Hymn For EasterApril 10, 2020
My brother Billy and his wife Janice live on a mountain top in the middle of the Rocky Mountains – literally. They can see the Bozeman pass from their dining room window, the Madison river below. They know that the pandemic is just on the other side of the mountains they love. For them, as for so many in rural America isolation is already a lifestyle. Their church cannot broadcast an Easter service, there is no highspeed internet out of town. Billy has dial-up internet and an old IBM PC. But they have a phone and email. Janice sent me the new Easter hymn a friend had just composed, “This Easter Celebration.”
The hymn captures the isolation we all feel this Easter week. It reminds us of the gift of worshiping together that we can so easily take for granted.
The Easter traditions that we all love and will not share this Sunday are more losses that we grieve. The hymn echoes the words of Paul to the church in Rome:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-37, ESV).
Truly we see so many being cut down by this virus, day after day. Even those trying to save lives are impacted. And yet, still, God is with us. In the darkest hour, in the first light of day he is there. The love and grace of our Savior and risen Lord is lived out in each of our lives as we care for each other in this difficult time.
We find the strength to do this – because indeed, Jesus has conquered death, nothing separates us from God, he is here with us now. May we see more often and more clearly God’s hand, his presence in all that we do.
Let us remember together – and yet apart – that for “we who love God, all things will work together for good, for those we are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). May these be more than familiar words of a great promise. May God use them in our lives to lead us through this tribulation.
Indeed, may even this pandemic be used of God to his glory to conform his own to the image of his son. Scattered but faithful, we God’s people live the Easter message by gladly serving our savior, our risen Lord.