By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Because of Covid-19 many churches will not be in their sanctuaries for Easter, April 12, 2020.
Easter Sunday can fall on any date between March 22nd and April 25th. The dates change because Easter happens on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon. The word Paschal means “Passover” in Greek which is a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach. The Paschal Full Moon is the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. This is sometimes referred to as the Egg Moon. This moon sometimes occurs in March and sometimes in April. So, April 12 is not locked in for Easter every year, but it is the date for 2020.
Easter 2020 will be remembered for a very long time as the Sunday America had no Easter. Or, the Easter where churches did not gather in small and large buildings. This is disappointing to multitudes. It is the “one” Sunday that many Americans attend church. Globally, churches pull out all the stops for presenting their best music. Ministers have been working the last several weeks polishing up their sermons. But it’s the same story, the old story that, once a year, people come to hear.
Some people still buy new clothes for Easter. Americans are more casual than ever but retailers still make out good for Easter, but not this year. Macy’s and other retailers just furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers. For these retailers Easter has been cancelled and they are feeling it in their pocketbooks.
The first Easter didn’t have a date of April 12. We don’t know the date. We do know that the followers of Jesus were terrified. They had just watched him crucified on a cross and they feared they were next. Financially they were struggling because they had left everything to follow Jesus. They had “sheltered” themselves in fear of the religious opposition.
That first Sunday morning Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. In the middle of her sorrow Jesus appeared, spoke her name and Mary realizing it was Jesus called him “Teacher”. She must have put her arms around Jesus because he said, “Don’t hold onto me, I have not ascended to my father.” John 20:17 Essentially, he said, “Don’t touch me!” This story is more relevant all the time. The saddest weekend of Mary’s life turned into the greatest day of her life as she became the first witness of the risen Jesus, later exclaiming to the disciples, “I have seen The Lord!” Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of Easter? We will miss gathering in church this Easter but experiencing Easter and the risen Christ can happen even if you are alone.
There will be Easter on April 12. There will be Easter for every person on the planet who will take the time to celebrate the old story, the good news of Easter wherever you are and whatever your situation, this Easter 2020.