Dear Beloved of God,
The Church has left the building.
This Easter and the days before us represent a challenging and painful season. However, we have some Good News to declare.
In fact, our story is not shaped nor defined by the global Coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. Our story is shaped by a 2,000 year-old story that is more than just good news. It is Gospel news, which is very good news! “God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16 NRSV).
In John 3, the conjunction “so” that comes before “that everyone who believes in him may not perish” comes from the Greek word meaning “in this way or in this manner.” We can focus on measuring how much but overlook how much God gave.
The manner in which God gave is through Jesus on the cross. He was tortured, beaten, crucified, and buried. We are the beneficiaries of the Bible, so we know how the story ends. Jesus is raised from the dead, and every Easter we declare Jesus is risen, risen indeed! God wins! Love wins!
So, how is it with your soul? If you are like me, you don’t like that we aren’t able to go to church. Our home church or any church. We are not sure when social distancing will end nor the pandemic that has disrupted so much of our lives and the global human family. Our churches are important places of worship and critical meeting places for children and adults in our communities.
Yes, we have left the buildings, and I pray that we do not return the same. God, who is never caught by surprise when calamity comes, is reminding us that we are created as human beings called to be the Body of Christ not defined by the building we worship in. The unity we have experienced in tragedy is not to be sacrificed for a longing for the familiar over the calling of our Savior.
All has changed, but we are still Easter people with Good News to share.
Beautiful People of God, when we read the resurrection story, we are reminded that when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, the stone was already rolled away. The faithful who came to mourn and anoint a dead body found an empty tomb. Everything Jesus had told his disciples came to pass, and I believe the stone was rolled away not so Jesus could get out, but for those who were burdened with fear and crippled with grief could look in. The tomb is empty, and Jesus is risen.
We have Good News to declare. Sin and death have been defeated, and God has work for us to do. Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again!
Be encouraged because He lives,
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church