On Easter morning I got out of bed and made my way downstairs to the kitchen. As I stood there, waiting for the kettle to boil, the morning sun rose over the church buildings and shone directly into my eyes. I thought of the day I had awoken to: the day of the resurrection of Christ, “the day star, who rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19.)
What a beautiful Easter morning! The birds were singing their song of praise to God, a gentle breeze stirred the trees to silent and gentle assent, while a sense of peace settled over our home. Outside everything seemed serene and I imagined people in their homes getting ready to go to church. Then I recalled our current status: in the age of the coronavirus, most people were not about to set off for church. On this most beautiful Easter morning, most people were staying home.
This virus has disrupted all our lives; on every radio, television and newspaper there seems to be only one story. My newspaper lists a daily toll of the numbers who have died. It makes for depressing reading. What would it be like, I wonder, if God were in charge of the news? Placing Easter on the front page would be like shining a light into the darkness of our lives. Why not make Easter the headline story of hope and new life, to displace the gloom of Covid-19?
On Easter weekend, my newspaper did actually carry a number of Easter-related stories and articles. Commentators wanted to view the current crisis through the lens of faith. Although one writer called Covid-19 “an act of God”, which it isn’t, most were looking for reassurance that God is present in our hour of need, and that from God we can draw strength, comfort and understanding.
If we feel helpless, it is because we do not think God can make a difference; but if we have faith, then God can make a difference. Of course, God is not like a fairy godmother who waves a wand and makes everything go away. That is the God of the nursery. Our God is a God of power, who allows us freedom to create a problem like Covid-19, and then gives us the capacity to respond in an intelligent and compassionate way.
Looking beyond the headlines and the daily toll, I do not see helplessness but countless examples of selfless service and courage among the doctors, nurses and medical staff who are dealing first hand with the coronavirus crisis. Many are people of prayer and the rest of them – well, they are sustained by other people of prayer: by you and me.
In the light of resurrection, we inhabit a world filled with the grace of God. This light sees into the heart of all creation, including ourselves, and we know that God never stops responding to our needs, whenever we call upon him. We turn to God now and ask him to intervene, to bring an end to human suffering and death. In life and in death, he is our present help in time of trouble.
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.