Two years ago, PCW celebrated a very special Easter Sunday. For the first time in many years, 2019 saw PCW celebrate two special Easter services on the same morning. At 8:30 a.m., we held an outdoor worship service on the back patio. The weather was exceptional!
We anticipated 40-50 people to be in attendance, and we were extremely delighted that over 80 people squeezed together on our beautiful back yard for Easter morning worship. Following that, we had a quick brunch of egg bakes and then we gathered back in the sanctuary, where over 100 people gathered to hear Aaron Bounds direct the choir in our first Easter cantata
in many years.
Many people attended all three Easter morning events. All told, over 150 people (a worship record during my tenure here at PCW) came through our doors that Easter morning. What a blessing it was to see such joy on everyone’s faces! The church leadership and I all agreed that day that it felt like a new dawn, the start of something very special.
Certainly, the following Easter would prove even more monumental!
Well, unfortunately, the Easter of 2020 was monumental for very different reasons. The sanctuary and the back patio were empty that Sunday due to the pandemic. Worship was held via PCW@Home. We hope many people joined us that morning on the church website, YouTube and Facebook. But, we just don’t know exactly how many people participated last Easter Sunday. And, this year, though the sanctuary will be open, we know attendance in person will not be anywhere near what it was just two years ago. There are just many people who have yet to be vaccinated and/or don’t feel ready to return to the sanctuary and large gatherings just yet.
But, we do have growing hope.
In the Gospel of Mark, we read that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb of Jesus early on Sunday morning where they would find the tomb empty and learn that Jesus had been resurrected. Mark adds the detail that they approached the tomb “when the sun had risen.” What an interesting detail to add! It is both a small yet profound description.
Sunrises have often been a source of hope and transformation. Renowned nature photographer Sapna Reddy once said, “We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in darkness.” As a new day begins, we feel full of possibilities. Perhaps this day will be better than the last? Perhaps God has something incredible for me to discover today?
Sunrises are symbols of new possibilities and new life. No wonder the resurrection was discovered as the sun rose!
This Easter may not quite be the Easter we envisioned two years ago. But, it is a step in the right direction. The sun will still rise and new possibilities are still on the horizon. More and more members are receiving vaccinations. Masks and social distancing can keep the numbers in Franklin County down. The sun feels like it is rising in our COVID 19 world. Hope and new life and resurrection are upon us. It may not quite be there yet, but Easter is a day to celebrate the hope we all have in the resurrection.
Because Jesus lives, we too can live. The sun was rising as the three women discovered the empty tomb. May our sunrises of today lead us to new discoveries as well!