"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter…
Turning Fear to Joy
Turning Fear to Joy
Our Jewish brothers and sisters are celebrating Passover – a reminder of God’s love and protection of His people. As God rained down judgment on all the firstborn in Egypt, all God’s people who had painted the blood of the lamb on their front doorpost were passed over – spared the plague of death as they huddled in their homes. God’s people would rise in the morning to begin their exodus from Egypt to their promised land, but that night was one of fear and anguish.
For Christians, it’s Holy Week, and in ordinary times it would be a busy time of celebration for many of our families. It begins with Palm Sunday, a favorite of the children who love processionals and who manage to find new and interesting activities for their palm cross or branch during worship every year. The Maundy Thursday service calls to mind the very first Eucharist by Jesus and His disciples, and it is often the day on which the church’s youngest confirmed members receive their very first Communion. The somber Good Friday evening service invites us to meditate on Christ’s suffering and death, with special readings and the extinguishing of each candle until, at the end, only darkness remains. Departing in total silence, worshippers have a sense of the despair felt so long ago by the disciples of the crucified Christ. Joy would follow on Easter morning with the celebration of the resurrection of their Lord and Savior, but they didn’t know it on that dark night.
These wonderful worship services won’t take place this year because most of our churches are closed due to the coronavirus. We may not have realized how how much we looked forward to them – and the fellowship of extended family and friends – until we couldn’t have them. In some ways, it’s as if the coronavirus has us trapped in the depths of fear, and we don’t know when the joy of the exodus from our quarantined homes or the celebration of the resurrection of community life will come.
Yet maybe this year calls for a different kind of reflection and at a different pace. Our lives can get frenzied, our relationships frazzled. Doubts and worries can produce fear, and fear can block our faith. We shouldn’t let it come to that.
We can’t control the world around us, but we can control our own thoughts and responses. Ponder for a moment Helen Steiner Rice’s lovely poem, “This Too Shall Pass.”
If I can remain calm and quiet
With all the world crashing about me,
Secure in the knowledge God loves me
When everyone else seems to doubt me
If I can but keep on believing
What I know in my heart to be true,
That darkness will fade with the morning
And that this will pass away, too
Then nothing in life can defeat me
For as long as this knowledge remains
I can suffer whatever is happening
For I know God will break all the chains
That are binding me tight in the darkness
And trying to fill me with fear
For there is no night without dawning
And I know that my morning is near.
If I can endure for this minute
Whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is
Or how dark the moment may be
Happy Passover! Happy Easter!