Easter Sunday, like everything else, will be different this year.
Usually, Holy Week is full of activities at church for our family. There’s Palm Sunday, when we get the new palms we’ll place behind our picture of Jesus on the mantle for the coming year. And the Passion Play, with its cries of “Crucify Him!” evoking the feeling in the crowd before the steps of Pontius Pilate’s praetorium.
Maundy Thursday has the washing of the feet.
There is the darkness of Tenebrae as the candles are snuffed out, one by one, until finally the last is extinguished and then into the darkness erupts the noise from feet stomping or books slamming or fists pounding pews in an echo of that long-ago earthquake that followed Christ’s crucifixion.
Each year our family takes advantage of the Easter break from school to pray the Stations of the Cross one afternoon. The church is usually empty, cavernous and shadowy, with colored light filtering down from the stained-glass windows overhead. We walk through the stations, telling the kids the story of each and praying together.
And for those hardy enough, there is the Easter Vigil.
Plus there is all the secular excitement that goes into planning and preparing for Easter: new Easter dresses for the girls, new ties for the boys, ordering cakes and hams, finding surprises for Easter baskets, trying to decide how many jelly beans are enough jelly beans, and looking forward to having again whatever it was we gave up for Lent.
This year, though, it has all been different. The church is closed. A “Stay-at-Home” order is in effect, curtailing shopping and outings. When we do go to the grocery store we find empty shelves, which is something new for me.
It’s all very strange.
But it’s still Easter. The churches may be closed but the tomb has been opened.
And that is something to celebrate.
We will decorate Easter eggs.
On Good Friday we’ll do our traditional family observance of Christ’s crucifixion by reading the gospel together as a family, followed by each of us finding our own place here at home to be alone for three hours of quiet and fasting and prayer from noon to three.
And on Easter Sunday we will wake up to our traditional Easter breakfast of coffee cake, presuming we can get one (cinnamon rolls if we cannot — I already have a tube of them saved in the fridge, just in case). We will still put on our fancy Easter clothes, but instead of going to church we’ll have a prayer service here at home, then go for a walk outside to look for the signs of new life that come with spring. We’ll hunt for Easter eggs around our yard and search for our Easter baskets with their coveted cargo of chocolate bunnies. For our Easter feast we usually have potato salad and cole slaw from the store and order a ham from a specialty shop. We may not be able to get those things this year, but I can bake a ham at home and we have pickles and olives and baked beans in our cupboards.
It won’t be the same, but it will still be good.
We’ll do the best we can. We owe the day nothing less. This is the day when we were all given life, so it is only right that we rejoice and be glad! The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and Our Lord is Risen! Hallelujah!
I hope everyone has a blessed and happy Easter!
Copyright 2020 Jake Frost