On the First Day of the Week

“When leaving his surgery on the morning of April 16, Dr. Bernard Rieux felt something soft under his foot.  It was a dead rat lying in the middle of the landing.

On the spur of the moment he kicked it to one side, and without giving it a further thought continued on his way downstairs.”[1]

So, Camus begins his narration of the pestilence that was to shortly overtake a most ordinary town on the Algerian coast in his novel, The Plague.  On the most ordinary of spring days.  Life would soon be completely disrupted, all its daily patterns and conventions. 

This is what COVID-19 has done to America, and to the entire world.

This Holy Week, we remain sealed up in tombs of fear.  It is serendipitous that Passover began this evening at sundown.  Passover celebrates the liberation of the Hebrew people from the land of slavery.  It is often through the scourge of plague and calamity that God frees.  Yes, stuff happens.  But as Rahm Emanuel is fond of saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”  This monumental crisis has laid waste our health care system; it has killed hundreds of thousands, and has devastated economies across the globe.  We turn this tragedy to good as we pull closer together as a nation, as one planet.  As we relearn our commonality with one another and with the natural world.  Might we relearn the wonder of clean air in our cities.  There is no Planet B.

Friends, Easter is not just a rumor.  Easter is now.  This pestilence will subside.  The Angel of Death will pass us by.  The boulder will be rolled away.   

We now catch a few splinters of that glorious Easter morn.  Like the touching letters of thanks from all across our nation – letters thanking the nurses, doctors and other hospital staff who have put their lives at risk to care for the ill. 

One letter read, “I am so grateful for the few hours out of the week we were able to be huddled together as the core of the family — all you did to console my fears and assure me that we’re going to get through this.  Thank you for being the amazing mother and nurse that you are.  I love you, your daughter, Tina.”

And another letter to a doctor. “These shields were made with love and appreciation by myself and my children, ages 10 and 8.  We cannot express our care and concern enough for you.  Keeping you in our hearts and prayers.”

These messages, and so many more, are the truth of Easter this year.  Can’t you feel the growing warmth on your face?  Expressions of thanks to our nurses, doctors, grocery store clerks, sanitation workers – all who are the incarnation of God’s message of hope.  They are God’s Easter glory. 

Friends, the stone of this tomb of darkness is ajar.  It may be many more weeks before we will finally emerge from COVID-19, but Easter is here.  For people of hope, it is always the “FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK!”

Let us wholeheartedly proclaim this Sunday, “Alleluia.  Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!”

Happy Easter to all.

Fr. John

[1] Albert Camus, The Plague (New York: The Modern Library, 1948).

Dear friends in Christ

April 12, 2020
Easter Day

The Rev. John C. Forney
John 20:1-18

“On the First Day of the Week”

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