By Lisa Lohnes
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:5-6
“He is not here; he is risen! What a joy it is to gather with our Grace community on Easter Sunday morning, proclaiming these powerful and wonderful words. It is a day of rejoicing together, from the early morning service, to sharing breakfast, and then reuniting again in worship. I always look forward to this time at Grace as together, we celebrate our Living Saviour and Redeemer who has conquered the grave. This Easter, however, will be different for all of us, due to COVID-19. Things will not happen “as usual.”
This will be the third Easter in a row that I have missed the usual Grace celebrations. Two years ago, I was at the bedside of my dying father. Last year, I was in the Philippines as part of Grace’s SENT team. While I was certainly blessed by my experience in another culture, many of my surroundings were still unfamiliar. Things definitely weren’t “as usual” those two Easters. I was grieving, uncomfortable and felt disconnected. Yet, in the midst, there was still joy.
In the midst of my sorrow, I took time from my bedside vigil to celebrate with some dear folks at a local congregation. In the midst of language barriers, I celebrated with 5 Filipino congregations, witnessing the baptisms of 27 souls proclaiming their commitment to follow Jesus. No, things were not “as usual” but the joy was great. The most important factor remained…the tomb is empty, echoing the words, “He is not here; he has risen!”
So as we, the Grace community gather together, yet separately around our technological devices this Easter, may we not grieve “the usual” but celebrate the One who never changes, proclaiming together “He is not here; He is risen. Hallelujah!”
Lisa has been a member of the Grace Community of Faith since 2014, and currently serves as the Past-President of Atlantic Baptist Women.