Easter sermons: During the COVID- 19 crisis, is it too soon to declare Christ’s victory over death?

“Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  Jesus has come out of the grave but we cannot come out of our homes.  We are told to stay home by local government officials.

Eleven of Jesus’s disciples were hiding behind closed doors and this Easter, we are with them.  We are not out in strong numbers, packing church pews.  Instead, we are peeking at the local news to see if the coast is clear.  “Can we come out now?”

More than 20,000 persons dead in the United States.  More than a million people infected by COVID-19 around the world.  We sing, “God’s got the whole world in God’s hands.”  But I want to see a show of hands. “How many of you are struggling to see the light, to claim the victory of Christ’s resurrection?”

Death is still stinging.  No funeral services.  No touching so no comforting the bereaved.  No formal process, I am still deeply grieved.

Today, I joined several online worship services to hear what other pastors would say during this pandemic.  Much like the theologians during the Holocaust, figuring out what to say when unexplainable and preventable death abounds is important, critical even.  Sermons with three points, alliteration and pat answers need not apply.  Heavy- handed theological declarations of God’s goodness to shout over our cries of helplessness are inconsiderate and sorely lacking compassion.

We know who God is and it still doesn’t make this time any easier.  Faith does not take the pain away.  We are not believing in spite of.  We are trying to keep the faith in the midst of a global pandemic.

No practical application. No next steps.  Please don’t attempt to make any meaning out of this.  There is still more suffering, more death to come.

We are still stretched then and sitting tight.   Money is still tight.  We are still finding out how we are going to pay our bills, how to get unemployment benefits when the website crashes, overwhelmed by the number of requests, how we can work from home and homeschool.  No programmatic messages please.  Our lives have gotten even more complicated.

We are battling many things and while the Scriptures certainly bring relief, there is a time for everything.  This is a time to weep, to mourn, to refrain from embracing, a time to keep silence (Ecclesiastes 3.4,5,7).  Yes, Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed!  But persons are still fighting for their lives, connected to the land of the living by breathing tubes.  So declaring Jesus’s victory over death while true may be a little too soon for many of us.

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Seeking to lead words and people to their highest and most authentic expression, I am the principal architect of a race/less world.

4 thoughts on “Easter sermons: During the COVID- 19 crisis, is it too soon to declare Christ’s victory over death?

    1. Absolutely. This is why I wrote the post. I really struggled with the joy and praise of the season. I just wasn’t there yet and if I am honest, I still am not there. Yes, Jesus has risen but thousands of people are still falling dead to the virus. The Church has to be more thoughtful in its response to this pandemic.

  1. Amen! Thank you for this message. I agree: in the midst of this sad and dangerous time, we do not need a “heavy-handed” Easter declaration or theological cliches that seek to rush past or explain away the immeasurable pain and suffering that abounds. If Easter is to be good news at this time, it will give us the strength to stay present to the pain and anguish so many are suffering.

    1. Yes, Melanie. I just struggle with sermons that declare victory over thousands of dead bodies. I am so glad that the message resonates with you. I just think that we really need to think through what the good news sounds like in the midst of a pandemic. I heard one sermon yesterday that invited listeners to breathe through it and that felt good. Sighing is a prayer language.

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