Easter in the Year of the Virus
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
It was the most important day in history, the first Easter. In John’s gospel we read the story, which begins, “On the first day of the week, while it was still dark. . . . ” In the darkness, Mary Magdalene runs from the empty tomb to town. Peter and John run from town to the tomb. And the paragraph ends by stating that “they still did not understand. . . ” (John 20:1-9).
“Still dark . . . still did not understand” are our shared experiences in the Easter in the time of the virus. John gives us picture of confusion and fear. As the telling of the story unfolds, we learn how to turn our hearts and minds toward the light, the Easter light of new life.
The First Principle. What do we need to do to turn toward the light of Easter? The scripture says, “Mary stood. . .” (see John 20:10-18). Stop running and be still. Once she stood still, she began to see and hear God in her life. She saw angels, heard Jesus call her by name, and could report, “I have seen the Lord.” Your spiritual life begins when you are still. It is more than physical stillness. It means to quiet your emotions, motivations, and aspirations.
Eric Liddell is the athlete who became famous in the 1924 Olympics for refusing to run on the Sabbath. His story is told in the film Chariots of Fire. Eric’s favorite hymn was “Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side.” Imprisoned by the Chinese in World War II, he taught the hymn to others in the prison camp: “Be still my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend / through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”[i]
The Second Principle. Again, the scripture says, “the evening . . . when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear. . ., Jesus came and stood among them. . .” (John 20:19). Receive God into your fears. Recognize Him and welcome Him. The life of the soul is not about appearing strong, but facing weakness, especially fear. The Scripture promises “. . . perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18). God’s love can drive out fear if you confess the fear in your soul and receive God’s love.
The Third Principle. A week later, doubting Thomas touched the wounds of Jesus and believed. Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:24-31). Here is a difficult lesson: What is most important in life cannot be seen or touched. The baby’s hands and eyes touch and see the physical world. The soul must learn to touch and see what is spiritual. And then, you and I must learn to stake our lives on it.
[i] Eric Liddell (1902 – 1941) was an Olympic champion of the 1924 games held in Paris. He then served as a missionary to China. His story was captured in the film Chariots of Fire (1981).