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Sprinkle: Celebrating Easter in uncertain times

“He is risen!” And through the centuries, the Christian faithful around the world have responded: “He is risen, indeed!”

It’s that fundamental statement of faith that binds Christians together and makes our heart and soul sing as the first trace of morning light begins to force aside the darkness. With the steadfast perseverance of the dawn, the sun breaks on the horizon, and we are once again reminded of the joyful words of Robert Lowry: “Death cannot keep its prey.” Ours is not just a belief. It’s the unshakable knowledge that on that first Easter morning: “Up from the grave he arose … a victor from the dark domain.”

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These are uncertain times, and this Easter will be unlike anything we’ve previously experienced. Many of us expected to be in church celebrating the risen Christ; instead, we’ll be listening and watching online as our pastors deliver their sermons to a church filled with empty pews. We expected to visit with our families and share an Easter meal; instead, we will visit with our families through social media or through a glass door, and we’ll be eating dinner either alone or with those who share our confinement.

Yet, as we focus on our frustration with our own inconvenience, many are mourning the loss of a dearly loved family member or friend; or they are anxious about those gravely ill, clinging to life by the thinnest of threads. Others worry about their family members on the front lines who are in a life or death struggle with an enemy invisible to the naked eye. And still others are uneasy about their ability to care for their families, to meet the mortgage payment, to put food on the table. And with each passing day, those anxieties intensify.

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We can tell people not to worry, but without a solid foundation within their grasp, worry is inevitable. We can tell them to have hope, but then, what gives them the courage to hope? From where does the confidence come to face uncertain times?

We know our medical professionals, our federal, state, and local governments are diligently searching for answers to mitigate the consequences of our encounter with a deadly adversary, and we credit them accordingly. But, (to borrow a cliché) they are only human.

So where can we go? On whom can we depend in a challenging environment? David tells us in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Christians believe that a God who loved his creation enough to send his Son to be spit upon by a lost humanity and to die a brutal death as “the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) — this is the God who can be trusted to come to the aid of his people in a time of “trouble.” In fact, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, God promised: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

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These are precarious times, but we can overcome panic with prayer. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,” Isaiah 23:3 tells us, “whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

Tomorrow, as we celebrate our risen Lord and his triumph over “the final enemy,” we will not laud his victory as we have in the past. We will not be in our church pews praying with our Christian brothers and sisters. We will not sing along with our church choirs the Easter anthem, “Christ, the Lord Is Risen Today.” We will not commemorate this day with our family and friends.

Nevertheless, we will celebrate.

We will pay homage to our Savior and King. And we will choose to walk confidently through this crisis and every day of our life because 2,000 years ago in a borrowed tomb in Jerusalem, prophesy was fulfilled. He is risen, indeed!

M.K. Sprinkle writes from Hampstead. Her column appears every other Saturday. Email her at sprinklemk@comcast.net.

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