Easter has taken on a special aura this year. Normally we think of it marking nature’s annual transformation from Winter into Spring, with the greening of the grass, the blooming of the flowers, and the warming of the earth.
For those of us who have experienced this transformation over the course of many decades, it can seem pretty ho-hum. As the elderly preacher Koheleth utters in the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Except the Spring of 2020 and the seasons which followed felt much more like an endless Winter.
March Madness in 2020 for NCAA basketball was cancelled. I still think KU men’s basketball team got shorted because last year’s team had the players who could have gone all the way to a national championship!
About this time last year, I had just finished listening to part of a Royal’s Spring Training game when Major League Baseball announced postponement of the season. Dickering over all kinds of details made it look for a while like there would be no season at all. 2020’s World Series winner, the LA Dodgers, should have an asterisk by their name for the abbreviated 60-game season.
The only statistics that, by any measure, deserved being counted soon after COVID hit were the number of new cases, and the number of deaths. Terrifying our nation was the dismal news that each wave of cases and deaths surpassed the last. The possibility of a vaccine being developed and distributed felt more like a pipe dream than an inevitability.
All of us were deeply affected. The idea of getting badly sick or dying or having a friend or loved one sick or die became all too real a possibility.
For the next 12 months, it was like the whole world was stuck with a never-ending Good Friday and Holy Saturday! As Thomas Paine once said, “These are the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls.”
But Easter this year, 2021, looks much more promising. Last year, all of us were so down in the mouth we would’ve sworn that if we’d looked inside the empty tomb Jesus would still be there. It was that kind of year.
This year our prospects are much brighter. We’ve been doing Live Streaming at SCCC since early December. Sunday, March 7 we began limited in-person worship. On the 14th Ronette Hoard, our Music Director, started playing in person. On the 21st Joe Follette started playing guitar alongside Ronette. This past Sunday, the 28th, we started children’s activities, beginning with their Palm Sunday miniparade. We also had the largest number of people at church in over a year with 45 people in attendance! Our amazing Director of Children & Family Ministries Patt Ludwick was able to do “LIVE” ministry instead of Kid’s Chat.
This coming Sunday we will have a “Y’all Come” 8:30 Easter service outdoors in the north parking lot of the church. Everyone is asked to bring their own lawn chair. This service will be followed by the 10:00 am service, again with Live Streaming. People who would like to attend at 10:00 can sign up via the newsletter and “Sign-Up Genius.”
The future keeps getting brighter and brighter at Shawnee Community. Our patience is beginning to pay off! Many of our folks are vaccinated now. Youth will lead worship on April 18. The Men’s Group is planning to return to Tanners for their Sunday night 7:30 p.m. weekly meeting, on the 18th. We look forward to the return of more of our band members in worship.
The apostle Paul after a long, difficult period in his life, writes, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” “Well done, good and faithful servants.” So, have we Shawnee Community!
The season of hope is upon us. May we rejoice we have come so far after such a trying year!
P.S. On Sunday, April 11, we will be talking in worship about baseball, another sure sign of Spring! You are invited either in the sanctuary or at home to don your Royals cap, T-shirt, jersey or sweatshirt. It’s time to give up 2020’s blues and put on Royal Blue, as we consider what baseball may teach us about our nation and our faith.