It was a different Easter.
Gone were the new outfits. Gone were the in-person Easter egg hunts. Gone were the gatherings together for worship.
Our Sunday School class met by conference call. We watched the worship service on computers, iPhones and iPads. We were together but separate.
Gone were the big Easter family dinners. One friend and I – that was it. My sister in North Carolina laments it was the smallest Easter dinner she had ever cooked, but we were good soldiers in the coronavirus war.
We talked on our telephones, as has become our custom. We accounted for every family member – so far so good. We talked about the sunrise services of our youth when our dad was in charge of the arrangements.
Michael, my son, called to tell me about the new version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” now showing on NBC.
I thought back to when I accompanied him and his young friend to see the road show version and how I worried about whether or not I was doing the right thing to take them.
My doubts lifted a few days later when I overheard Michael and the same friend discussing in serious tones whether or not Judas had a choice. And to my utter astonishment, discussing whether or not Judas could be saved.
Fourteen-year-old boys trying to solve a mystery that religious scholars have struggled with for two centuries. Yes, I was right to take them to see the show.
I settled in to watch the television version, trying to compare it to the original. It is a beautiful/horrible story or a horrible/beautiful story depending on your point of view.
I was forced to realize the problems of the last week are nothing in comparison to the last week Jesus endured before His crucifixion. Here it was again unfolding on the screen in front of me.
The hundreds of times I have heard the story, read the story, seen the story and told the story do not matter. Time does not soften its impact.
It grabs you and does not turn you lose even though you know the ending, even though you have experienced the ending. You are horrified all over again.
What a story! What an ending! What a new beginning!
Easter is beautiful where I live. The flowers and trees are dressed in such splendor that no store-bought outfit could even come close to competing.
Spring is here. New life is here. Coronavirus or no, a new day is dawning. Easter brings us new hope for all the days ahead.
The telephone rings. A friend is bringing me an Easter basket and a freshly made quiche. I meet her at her car and maintain six feet of distance between us.
She is a devout Christian out spreading joy wherever she can. I’m moved by her thoughtfulness.
It’s late, but it’s Easter. It’s time for me to call my daughter in Tennessee. They are in a different time zone.
“Hello, honey. Happy Easter.”
Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.