Penny Nance: Coronavirus keeps our churches closed on Easter, but our faith can never be taken from us

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Like millions of other families, my family’s Easter will be very different this year. Years and years of attending church services, gathering together afterward for a huge meal, wearing a new spring dress, socializing and enjoying fellowship won’t happen. Neighborhood Easter egg hunts are also a no-go.

For the first time in our nation’s history, the doors of America’s churches will be shut on Easter Sunday. Think about that shocking statement for a moment. At a time when we most need to draw strength from our faith, we cannot worship together.

This is hard for us. The American Psychological Association notes that during a period of social distancing, quarantine or isolation, people may experience increased fear, anxiety, depression, boredom, anger, frustration, irritability and stigmatization.

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Human beings are social creatures. We are meant to be together and have human connections. My elderly parents are particularly sad and feel loss this Easter. My 85-year-old father was hoping to preach one more Easter sermon. He worries he won’t get that chance again. He is not alone.

Even if we aren’t sick or don’t know anyone who is sick we are a grieving nation, mourning what we have lost: people, jobs, businesses, graduations, weddings, financial security and freedom.

It’s OK to admit this. We want to love our neighbors and keep them safe but we are heartbroken for what we have lost. Those two facts can simultaneously exist.

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What do we do with this? As I grieve, I am praying that now more than ever before we, the church, can embrace the true meaning of Easter.

As Christians, all of our usual traditions have been stripped away and all the trappings of Easter are gone. But what we have left is all that matters. One thing that remains this year? The pure and simple truth of our faith that can never be stripped away from us.

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Easter is the story of the pain of death and the amazing hope of resurrection. Jesus Christ became man and yet remained wholly God and willingly went to the cross taking the blame and wrath in my place, in your place. He paid the price for all mankind’s sins.

But that’s not where it ends. The entire basis for the Christian faith is predicated on what happened next. Our Holy God cheated death and literally resurrected from the grave on the third day and ascended into heaven to await any who would choose to follow him.

Jesus became the sacrifice for all the selfishness and ugliness in our souls. The account was settled. The price of redemption paid.

We are free of the bondage of sin and Satan has no claim on our lives. This is true for you no matter what you have done. No sin can put you or me out of the healing reach of the loving hands of our Savior.

This Easter, more than ever before, may the truth of all that Jesus accomplished on the cross become a living reality in our lives.

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, He made a way for us to walk in triumphant victory today, despite all that is happening in our world. This is good news!

Matthew 8:17 says, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” How we need to experience this reality during this pandemic.

Jesus said, “It is finished!” When I remember this the rest seems silly.

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This Easter, yes, we feel loss. But look at what we celebrate! Redemption! Forgiveness! Restoration! Victory! Triumph over darkness!

Please join me Easter Sunday in reading with our families the account from the Bible in the book of Luke and praying for our neighbors, our families and our nation.

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