After a cold dreary winter, Americans typically long for the arrival of spring in all her glory. The extra daylight that dispels darkness, the warmth that blankets the earth and the scent of beauty itself.
One of my favorite childhood series is the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In his most well-known book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the arrival of spring coincides with the return of the True King of Narnia, a formidable yet humble lion, “Aslan.”
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
In Christianity, spring’s arrival is almost synonymous with the Lenten season which beckons Christians to relinquish for six weeks something that will, in turn, allow them to prepare for the death and resurrection of the one true King that Easter joyfully celebrates.
This season, however, is unlike any the modern world has ever known.
With the arrival of COVID-19, all of mankind has participated in a Lenten season of sorts.
We have retreated to our homes — something extroverts like me rarely like to do. And the pandemic has taken away from us the daily interactions many consider essential to our lives. Lonely, many people are devoid of jobs, while others fear for the health of loved ones who have fallen prey to the highly contagious disease. The Bible says in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (8:22-24):
We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, ….groan inwardly as we await for...the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
The groanings of humanity have been excruciatingly loud amidst the global crisis. We cried out, “Hosanna!, which means, “Come save us!” from our homes on last week’s Palm Sunday rather than in our houses of worship. Today, as we approach the empty tomb, can we claim the hope of Easter more than ever before that “Christ is Risen Indeed!”?
Growing up in the Mayodan Moravian Church, the Lenten Season, which concludes with Holy Week readings, moves steadily up to the wonder of the empty tomb that greets believers Easter morning.
The Moravian faith and its traditions have a beautiful, yet subtle intentionality leading up to the triumph of the empty tomb. For nearly a decade of my childhood, I walked alongside the church’s brass band, holding sheet music from midnight until sunrise at the Moravian Cemetery, God’s Acre.
In fact, this year I had hoped to instill in my daughters the joy of singing beloved centuries- old hymns during such a walk along Mayodan’s Second Avenue during sunrise. Alas, this hope will have to wait.
However, just as all of creation knows the sun will rise this Easter. Christians still have the imperishable hope of the emptiness of the tomb. For a believer, this means that God himself has rescued us from our sinful nature …
This promise, which has been perfectly fulfilled for those of faith, is also infinitely full of hope in contrast to the empty tomb. We cannot begin to wrap our finite minds and hearts around the wonder and awe of why the God of the entire universe would empty out the riches of His storehouse in exchange for the bankrupt state of our own.
And yet He does just that — He sends his only son, Jesus, who humbles himself to the point of death so that death’s bitter sting and final say on our lives will never be the ultimate verdict.
Our stories as believers do not end with emptiness but with God’s infinite mercy and then ultimate grace. Instead, Jesus says in John 10:10 that “I have come that you might have life, life to the full.” The empty tomb turns the fear of COVID-19 on its head and says that all creation has a Creator that not only has given us life, but wants to give us fullness of life!
So while this Easter may look infinitely different and perhaps empty compared to Easters of old, take heart that for those who walk in the light of God’s redeeming love that our suffering and loneliness is not without the promised fullness of reward and comfort. King David writes in the Psalms that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit’’ (34:18). The real joy lies in knowing that because the tomb is empty, Jesus and his spirit lives instead to reside in each of our hearts as a deposit of our future hope.
Take heart, friends, and know this Easter comes at a fortuitous time in this fight against an invisible enemy. It is a glorious reminder that we do not remain in the ‘emptiness’ of this world, but that if we have the love of our very Creator who made us in his image (Genesis 1:27), then there is fullness of life today and in our days ahead.
Lewis’ imagery of heaven offers great beauty and hope:
All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page; now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every Chapter is better than the one before.
From C.S. Lewis, “The Last Battle” from Chronicles of Narnia
Lindsay Barham Morris is a contributing writer to RockinghamNow. A Rockingham County native, Morris was the long time legislative assistant to the late U.S. Rep. Howard Coble.
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