We enter this Easter experiencing an environment that is anathema to what we as humans, at least most of us, desire. That of gathering together, being close, and comforting each other. Instead, due to the current COVID-19 health issue that we continue to grapple with, we are compelled to keep our distance from people. This experience is cutting across all demographics. Everyone is feeling this. It is not only disruptive, but it also forces us to examine what really has meaning for us. It is bringing new meaning to the phrase “meaningful relationships”. During the time of Jesus, He reached out to many who were considered outcasts, to those who had no such relationships. Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers. These were people who either because of their role, behavior, or physical condition, were avoided. It is horrible to feel avoided. To be ignored.
The other day we came across the story of a local resident who needed to go to the local Home Depot to pick up some needed items for a repair in his home. When he got home, described to his wife what it was like. First off, he couldn’t believe how excited he was just to be going to Home Depot. He considered it an escape from quarantine. But, when he got there, due to the social distancing health recommendation currently in place, he could sense not only the distancing, but a fearful avoidance that people were exercising. He remembered not long ago, prior to this current environment, having had short friendly conversations with some of the employees during previous visits as he was seeking a solution for a home repair. Or just briefly chatting with other homeowners.
Now, on this trip, he waited in line to go in on a metered basis, found his items, and checked himself out. No exchanges with anyone except with the one employee who pointed out the next available self-checkout register. On his way out of the store, he stopped to say hello to a contractor who was loading a truck. This gentleman stopped and gave a hearty hello back and said, “Hey, it’s good to have someone stop and say something.” He described that exchange being similar to someone giving him a drink of fresh water on a hot day.
There is Someone ready to give each of us a drink of fresh water and to have a meaningful relationship with us. His name is Jesus. He turns outcasts into precious gems. He died and conquered death on Easter so that our lives would have eternal meaning, if we so choose. Yes, this is a unique Easter given that, for the first time in our nation’s history, churches will be empty. But the message of Easter has been and will always be found in the empty tomb.
Most of us have heard the Easter message in some form. We can, unfortunately, almost become numb to it. One way messages can connect with us is through visuals. We would like to share a visual with such meaning. It is a video clip from the movie Ben Hur. In it, the main character has been betrayed by a very close friend (does this sound familiar), and is about to give up living when Someone shows up and gives him the hope that only He can provide.