This year's celebration of the central mystery of Christian faith arrives, like the first Passover, during a time of plague, a global pandemic which has already inflicted much suffering and stirred up fear, which is natural in these circumstances, and hatred, particularly of migrants and refugees, which is not. With an international response non-existent and local populations left to deal with the crisis on their own, many feel far from the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel."
For the Jewish community, this year's celebration of the Passover seder proved to be quite unlike any other most of those now living have experienced. The beginning of the festival found some families and circles of friends joining together over Zoom; many couples, especially older ones, celebrated without their children or other family and friends; still others celebrated alone.
Amidst the very threatening situation in which we find ourselves at the moment, families, friends and individuals responded in creative ways to ensure that what's most important--God's redemption of and ongoing care for God's people--was remembered and celebrated, even at a table where only one or two were seated.
A similarly creative response is taking place within Christian communities around the world: communities have sought to help those who have been left most needy by the lockdowns taking place; different forms of shared prayer online are being explored; and perhaps even more importantly, families are (re-)discovering the grace to be found in sharing prayer together, at home.
Even if this year's Easter festival finds us unable to celebrate while being physically together, if we are united in prayer wherever we are, celebrating God's gracious gift of redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, then we are no less a "synaxis"--a felicitous term in common use among Eastern Christians--a "gathering" of God's people, than if we were able to gather together physically.
As this year's "Pasch" arrives, like the first Passover, at a time of plague, let us join together in prayer for people around the world who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, that by God's mercy this new angel of death may pass over and spare God's beloved children everywhere. The Lord Jesus' passage through death to life is the Father's assurance that the gift given to each of us, life itself, is the gift God always offers.
However you are celebrating the Easter mysteries this year, know that I and all of our extended family at Tantur join in wishing you a blessed and joyful feast. Be assured of our prayers for your continued safety and good health.
Hristos anesti! Christ is risen!
Alitos anesti! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Wishing you blessings and peace,