As a surprise to no one, anywhere in the world, Easter was a bit different this year. Our team has struggled with the implications of COVID and potential problems, held in tension with the fact that Burundi has recorded only 5 cases. We are trying to find the right balance of wisdom in preparing and protecting ourselves and our country, while still finding a way to live and work in our very tight-knit community. There was a lot of discussion leading up to Easter. Traditionally, it's been a day of celebrating, perhaps sharing a song in a packed out church, feasting at a brunch potluck together, kids hunting easter eggs and candy. This year...we try to avoid crowds. We try not to share food. There are no visitors to bring candy in special suitcases. But in the end, we decided that gathering together was important enough to our mental health and the witness our intertwined lives provides, to continue with at least some of these traditions.
The team did decide to gather for a meal. We set up tables 6 feet apart and did family groupings. Only a few people served the meal, wearing gloves and distributing food so people didn't have to touch utensils multiple times. But we showed up. Someone did in fact pull out a sack of candy for the kids to find! And we started with "A Liturgy for Feasting." This is something we've classically done on Thanksgiving, but it seemed no less appropriate for Easter Sunday in the COVID era. I already shared this in my Thanksgiving blog, but it bears repeating:
To gather joyfully is indeed a serious affair, for feasting and all its enjoyments gratefully taken are, at their heart, acts of war.
In celebrating this feast we declare that evil and death, suffering and loss, sorrow and tears, will not have the final word.
We ate, and we prayed, and we sang praises. Later that afternoon, Serge had prepared a special Easter service online for all of their missionaries, and our families were able to watch a message of hope and encouragement. It was a good day. It was a very anticipated day and one that was full of a different meaning than in years past, as the world struggles along and death seems very near. It's been a hard season here at Kibuye, a season of dying and loss, and the resurrection has never seemed so poignant nor applicable...nor longed for.
And yet now, after the fact, it seems that the hope and joy that I wanted Easter to bring....are hard to come by. If I'm honest, I hoped that Easter Sunday would magically usher in a new season here on earth, with healing from viruses, world peace, and an end to goodbyes. A personal sense of peace and calm. But it didn't. The problems of the world, the problems of my heart, are all still the same as they were on Saturday. The difference is, if I can cling to it, that the problems are faced with a different viewpoint. If I truly believe, as I do, that Jesus Christ conquered death on that Easter Sunday so many years ago, then this world is not my home. There is more to come. These "light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." My heart is fickle, and I often choose to focus on my temporary afflictions instead of my eternal glory. But I hope and pray that this Easter season will serve as a reminder to me to fix my eyes on Jesus and the hope to come. I pray that for us all.