An Easter Message from Cornerstone’s Director of Strategic Alliances, Rev. Neil Hubacker:
To say that I’m sad to be celebrating Easter virtually this morning is an understatement. I grew up a United Methodist, and our church had a strong musical tradition. Since our services could be quite “high church” on special occasions, Resurrection Sundays always truly moved me, even as a child. This week, as my own family has been reading through the biblical accounts of the passion, a gnawing melancholy has been brewing in me at the thought of not being gathered with the body of Christ this year to celebrate His resurrection.
But it also gives me pause and turns my thoughts to believers everywhere. The freedom we typically enjoy here is not enjoyed by churches around the world. In countries like China and Iran, believers are denied the liberty to worship openly — persecuted and forced to meet in secret. Ironically, China, the same country where this pandemic originated, is also a country that aggressively disbands Christian churches and persecutes their pastors and followers. That certainly puts this year’s virtual Easter celebrations in perspective for me.
Let me exchange my melancholy for a joyful, resolute solidarity with my brothers and sisters in China, or in Iran, who will likely worship a resurrected Jesus this Sunday in secret, and not for fear of contagion.
When Charles Wesley penned “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” in 1739 England, the use of the present tense was striking: not “has risen,” or “rose,” but “is risen,” emphasizing our co-participation in, and our immediate and ongoing benefit from, the bodily resurrection. So, in the 4th stanza:
“Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia.
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia.
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia.
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Alleluia!”
This Easter, though temporarily constrained by an invisible and deadly enemy, let us now soar. Although the pandemic has forced us into a sudden embrace of an unexpected cross and grave, Jesus’ resurrection means we are miraculously made like Him; and like Him, we rise.
In this time of extraordinary challenge, as we celebrate the Risen Christ, let us not forget the sacrifices of those fighting the Coronavirus battle here at home: the doctors, the nurses, the health care workers, grocery store workers, and the first responders who daily put their own health on the line to save others. And, let us not forget to bless the federal & state government leaders and the food bank workers who are forsaking their Sunday dinners, at least in part, to keep pushing the Coronavirus battle lines forward.
So, though apart, we are together in Christ. We are redeemed. Alleluia.
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia!