A friend recently posted on social media a photo of her granddaughter sitting in her lap, both of them smiling into the camera. Through this past year, she had posted photos of their meeting each other through a window, or out on my friend’s deck at a distance and wearing masks. The photo was the first time in a year that my friend got to hold her granddaughter on her lap, and they were only able to be that close safely because my friend is fully vaccinated against COVID, and her granddaughter has no underlying health issue that would make it likely that she would develop a severe case of COVID. And so, in compliance with guidance from the CDC, my friend could allow her granddaughter to sit on her lap. And after having lived through this year of lockdowns and social distancing and face masks, that simple photo was not so simple. It was a glimmer of light shining in the darkness, a sign of hope, a taste of holiness.
For holiness is to be found in the everyday. That has always been the meaning of Easter. Lurking in the story of Easter has been the message to look, not up towards heaven, but to look outward towards each other, because that is where Christ, that is where holiness is to be found. “Tell his disciples,” was the message of the young man sitting in Jesus’ empty tomb, according to the Gospel of Mark, in what is probably the earliest written account of that first Easter morning—“Tell his disciples…that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him….” And, of course, Galilee was home for those first disciples. And so, what they were being told was that when they went home, they would find that Christ was there, waiting for them in their normal, everyday lives.
“Only when normal things are not normal anymore do we realize how special normal things are.” And I would perhaps rephrase that statement by an unknown author to say that when normal things are not normal anymore, that’s when we realize how holy normal things are—a granddaughter sitting in her grandmother’s lap, families and friends celebrating special moments together, congregations gathering to worship God and to support each other. And if this pandemic has taught us to stop taking the normal, everyday things of life for granted, then for as awful as this past year has been, and there is no taking away how awful this past year has been, then maybe at least we can say that we are perhaps wiser for what we have endured, ready to taste something of the new life that Easter has always promised.
–Pastor Don Steele