This is an Easter month like no other. Easter without church services. Easter online practicing social distancing. Easter greetings on the phone. Empty churches for Easter week.
I Cor. 15:32 says, “If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
Our hope is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus gives balance to enjoying food and drink. God created taste buds. Food was central to Jewish worship and was an important part of New Testament community. Heaven is described as a marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). An image of a weeklong wedding feast is one view of our future beyond the grave.
We live in a culture of ‘foodies.’ People love to try the latest novel restaurant experience. All those experiences are on hold during April 2020 because of Covid 19. I hope that this season teaches us that a good meal has a place in life, but preparing for the marriage supper of the Lamb is of far greater significance. The longing within people to eat good food, in a nice place with good friends, is given by God so that people will long for heaven.
The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that there is more to life than just eating and drinking. Our season is calling us to rethink our approach to food. May we as followers of Jesus demonstrate to our foodie neighbors a healthy enjoyment of God-given pleasures in eating with echoes of a feast to come in the kingdom of God.
The above verse, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” expresses a fatalism that gives too much power to death. Death is tied to Satan and sin. Jesus came to bring life and life beyond the grave. The coronavirus is evil. It is killing people. It is a tool of Satan to inflict pain on humanity. Easter reminds us of the precious nature of life itself. Because the dead will be raised to eternal life, a fatalistic view of death is unacceptable.
We are right to take precautions at this time because we want people to live. Carelessness among the young brings death to the older and the vulnerable. Our sacrifice in social distancing is because life is precious. Jesus dignifies life by leaving heaven to be born in Bethlehem. Jesus dignifies life by being a great healer. He healed the sick and raised the dead in his three years of ministry. Jesus did not send out his followers to kill and be killed on a battlefield like many other religious leaders.
Even today Christians are heavily represented among the ‘healers’ in our pandemic. Christian doctors and nurses are fighting this evil from a place of love and a heart that values life. They are getting beat up in the process and need our added prayers at this time. May God’s grace be upon them.
A final word of hope. The resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds us that good days are coming. The tears at the tomb were turned to cheers when Jesus appeared, alive. For those scared, bored, or lonely at home, know that better days are coming. This is a pruning time but there will be a coming harvest. Church services will have added joy when we return to ‘normal.’ Greeting a friend will never be taken for granted again. Spring is here. Easter is around the corner. God is good all the time.
We expect that there will be no church gatherings in the month of April. There are some online small groups which will continue. Since March 22, there has been a preaching service livestreamed at 11:00 AM and available on the church website www.fortleegospel.org and Fort Lee Gospel’s Facebook page. This will continue.
Palm Sunday, April 5, 11:00 AM livestreamed from Pastor Rick’s home
Good Friday, April 10, Noon livestreamed Good Friday service
Resurrection Sunday, April 12, 11:00 AM livestreamed service
Please note that there is an online giving option on our church website. Some have preferred to mail a check to the church address, 1625 Palisade Ave., Fort Lee, NJ 07024. Thank you.
Finally, I have used the church E-mail mailing list to stay in communication in recent weeks. E-mails were sent March 13, 20 & 27. I expect that the next E-mail communication will be mid April, a few days after Easter Sunday. Stay safe. Stay connected by phone. Stay growing in your faith. God bless!