To Go Out in Joy
For many people, this week carries special meaning. This is Holy Week for Christians, culminating in Easter this Sunday. The Jewish holiday of Passover, which began last Saturday, also ends on Sunday.
Last year, these holidays occurred just as the pandemic was beginning to take its toll on the world. Who could have imagined one year later, as we celebrate these same holidays, we are still looking and hoping for the end of this challenging time of constraint and heartbreak?
The Passover celebrates the way in which God’s chosen people were freed from bondage and were able to return to the life they had known before being enslaved. It is a story that surely has special meaning this year as events that were once routine begin to return to our everyday lives. For those celebrating Passover, this year may once again include limited in-person community activities—with the requisite masking and social distancing.
For Christians who are commemorating the Passion of Christ this week, today is “Good Friday,” a shocking term to describe the day that Jesus Christ was crucified unless one thinks about it as the moment when history was forever altered through God’s grace and humankind was saved from sin and oppression.
In between the death of Christ on Friday and the unprecedented resurrection on Sunday morning, those early believers endured what must have been their darkest and most desperate Sabbath.
These are the events that are at the very heart of the Christian faith—the devastating heartbreak that accompanied the crucifixion, the dark uncertainty of “Holy Saturday” when it seemed that all was forever lost, and the unparalleled joy of the mysteries of the resurrection on Sunday morning, when Jesus took up His life again so that the world might be saved.
This weekend, many of the churches, synagogues and mosques that have been closed for over a year begin their return to “normal” services, though still constrained by pandemic protocols. The meaning of Easter is accompanied by gratitude for the opportunity to simply gather together in worship and praise.
If you are among those who celebrate one of these holidays, my hope is that you will experience a deeper understanding of God’s love and care for you and that your faith continues to serve as a beacon of hope for the future.
As we all anticipate the end of the pandemic and celebrate being together with our friends and family, may the ancient words of the prophet be a blessing and a benediction: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12, NIV).