Postponing Passover (...or Easter!)
During this strange time of "physical distancing" and "sheltering at home," I have been trying to talk to church members on the phone in between tearing my hair out over technology issues and slow internet that makes everything I'm doing to keep a congregation connected very difficult.
What I've been hearing is a deep desire to be together in worship again...of course, that isn't going to happen for awhile--at this point we are being told at the earliest it will be May. People are sad and depressed about not being able to have traditional services for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. These services are so central to the rhythm of our worship each year, and also to our faith! The further the dates were getting pushed out, the more I was feeling like we should not give up those important services.
But I also wasn't sure if it was right to do so, or if I should be figuring out how to manage it all with technology. Then I got a passing reference from a colleague online that mentioned 2 Chronicles 30--so I looked it up and read it.
"Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly." (2 Chronicles 30:1-4)
Apparently, when King Hezekiah had taken over after King Ahaz, who had completely disregarded all of Israel's faith practices, he had to open up the temple again and try to get things back on track. King Hezekiah knew that Passover was the most important religious celebration of the year, so they agreed to hold it as soon as they could get the temple and priesthood up and running again. As you can see, we are in good biblical company in having to respond to an unusual circumstance by postponing our most important worship for when we can gather together again!
Now, as then, we will have our most beloved worship services of the year to look forward to with hope and expectation when this pandemic eases. When we are able to open up the church and gather again we will celebrate the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of our Lord, his Last Supper, his Crucifixion and his Resurrection...and that is our plan! And, like Hezekiah, I believe "the plan seemed right." May it be so...as soon as possible
From exile at home, Rev. Julie Parsell