As we celebrated Passover and Easter these past days we are reminded of the power of God in the midst of times of trials and tribulations.
The Israelites were stuck in slavery in Egypt and when a series of plagues were visited upon the Egyptians the Israelites had hopes each time that “THIS, finally, will be the end of our slavery. Freedom ahead!” Sound familiar? We are reading each day’s paper to see signs of the Coronavirus epidemic slowing and subsiding. But it isn’t over yet. The orders to stay at home have been extended throughout the end of the month. Will this ever end?
On the first Passover, the people of faith gathered in their homes, with travel bags packed, to share one special meal before the ultimate divine act that would set them free. And then the angel of death flew over the land, striking down the first-born of all the Egyptians. Alas, in our day the “angel of death” is not so selective in passing over families. Young and old are infected. Death comes not only to the elderly and infirm, but to those in the prime of their lives. Will this ever end?
The disciples of Jesus also experience a devastating death. They had hoped that he was the one to free Israel, this time not from the Egyptians, but from Roman occupation. But he was tortured to death and now his lifeless body was relegated to a cold tomb. This was the end.
Yet in the case of the Passover and the case of the death of Jesus, God’s plan was bigger than any person of faith could imagine. Passover was more than not having to build pyramids. Easter was more than a man coming back to life. In the first case, there was freedom for a whole people and the promised land ahead! In the latter case, there was the reality of eternal life offered to all! Death is not the end for any of us!
The local experiences portrayed in the scriptures were not for those times alone but for all times. That is why, for thousands of years, people of faith have celebrated a God who parted the sea to lead people to freedom and the same God who parts the waters of death. With confidence in what our God has done, can we really doubt that God will not save us from today’s tribulation?
I am strengthened by these feasts of faith. I walk through them and beyond them with new resolve to act like God acts. Could I imagine God hoarding supplies? Could I imagine God polluting the parking lots with used gloves? Could I imagine God infecting the other people in my life through careless contact? No! I am energized and inspired by the God who creatively saw beyond temporary oppression. The Red Sea was no obstacle to freedom. The tomb was no obstacle to ongoing life. The more I immerse myself in the creativity of God, the more I can discover creative ways to combat the loneliness, isolation, fear, tension, and weariness that so many of us face these days.
For Christians, the season of Easter continues for fifty days until it culminates on Pentecost. During these days I invite everyone to pray for new life in the midst of this crisis and to find creative ways to love those who are experiencing their own brand of slavery or find themselves somehow entombed. God will unleash new waves of life in unexpected ways if only we are open to the divine gifts that are offered to us. Let Alleluia be our song and as the spring around us signals new life, let us be caught up in the new possibilities of love and healing ahead.