Yesterday, I was reading a column by sportswriter Jason Gay about the spring baseball ritual for little leaguers -- Opening Day -- that's been cancelled. He also talked about his new ritual with his two children - a 7-year-old and a five-year-old. They found a place for batting practice on a little concrete strip behind their building. He's got a bucket of foam balls that he hopes won't break any of the neighbors' windows. He describes it this way:
We look like lunatics, a father and two small children back in this alleyway, foam baseballs bouncing all over the place, but it's my favorite part of the day. It's our ritual. Everyone has rituals now. . . . The thing about these rituals is, they're comforting. . . . For now, we make do with rituals, along with strange new habits. . . . I have a feeling it's going to be a good long while for us to return to normal. I wonder what the normal will be -- if life will forever change after this. (The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2020, A16)
Jason Gay touches on two things I'm thinking about in preparation for Easter Sunday. The first has to do with wondering "if life will forever change after this." The title of this Sunday's message is "How Will This Change Us?" It is a question I find many of us are asking. I hope we can find some guidance, and maybe even some answers, from scripture this Sunday.
Jason Gay also talks about rituals -- that everyone has them now, in part because they are "comforting." One person talked about the importance of ritual in worship, saying that ritual is what we rely on when we run out of words to say.
This Easter Sunday we will be celebrating Communion or the Lord's Supper. In the church we call it a sacrament, but it is also a ritual. And yet it is a ritual that is not simply "made up." As Christians, we believe this ritual is connected to something very real that took place in history. We believe Jesus not only celebrated a Last Supper with his disciples the night before his arrest, but that he died on a Roman cross for the sins of the world. This was God's way of entering into the suffering of the world in order to save it from the sin and brokenness. It was God's way of making things right -- the way they're supposed to be.
Our sacrament of Communion or the Lord's Supper is not a ritual that ends with the death of Jesus from crucifixion. No, it also looks forward to a time when we as believers will come "from East and West and North and South" and gather at the table in the Kingdom of God. It looks forward to the time when God will set everything right, in the new heaven and the new earth, where there will be no more tears, or death, or pandemics. So, plan to have some bread and grape juice or wine on hand as we celebrate Communion together online this Easter Sunday.