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Pandemic or Panic?

Views | 5 May 2020

An Easter Message by Rev. Alan Wood, Vicar of All Saints Anglican Church Jakarta.

In the past few months, the whole world has been turned upside down by the arrival of the Covid-19 virus. The terrible tragedy of so many lives lost and so much suffering in virtually every country will be a horrible lasting memory for every one of us. It has interrupted our rhythm of life in a way that no other single event ever has, with perhaps the exception of the two World Wars of the last century.

All this came to a climax during Easter 2020 when most Christian churches were beginning to plan for what is usually one of our most precious and busiest periods; we realised that we had to change the way we meet together. Restrictions were placed on us all to keep a safe distance from others through “social distancing” and isolating ourselves as much as possible. Suddenly, what is already a sombre time in our calendar, remembering the death of Jesus Christ, becomes even gloomier when we realise, we can’t even meet for this special time of remembrance. Made even more sombre as the media daily reports the latest virus death toll. It almost seems that whatever was “good” about Good Friday has been drained away from us.

But, as far as meeting together, we have adapted. In a very short space of time, for some only a matter of days, we found ourselves engaging alternative hi-tech ways of assembling in cyberspace. Not just in church gatherings, but society at large has embraced new ways of meeting. The word ‘zoom’ doesn’t just mean making a picture bigger, but suddenly everybody with any electronic device has regular Zoom meetings to stay in touch. It’s not ideal, certainly not as intimate and friendly as personal contact, but under the circumstances, we are coping with new meeting methods.

Amidst all the changes we have had to make, one thing has remained clearly constant. The reason for “Good” Friday hasn’t changed. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus the Christ gave his life and died on a cross to meet the just demands of God in payment of all the sins of all humanity. No matter which way we meet to remember this, the fact of the death of Jesus and its ramifications can never be changed or tampered with. Whether we meet face to face or virtually, even a global virus is powerless to negate the wonderful gift that is given to us by God, when His Son died for us. Scripture reassures us that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God.

It gets even better. The climax of the Easter narrative comes on the third day after Jesus died. He rose again from the dead! Effectively Jesus conquered the last enemy of humankind, physical death. This is the core of the Christian faith. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we derive hope that we too will share in the same victorious resurrection, conquering death, at the end of this age. While it is easy to be distracted by the uncertainties of the present times, anxiety and distress seem to dominate everyone’s minds because of Covid-19. Scriptures call things like this “light and momentary troubles” when we compare them to the certainty of the future.

It is true that the world will never be the same. The virus will pass but life as we know it will now be different. At best, the future is uncertain, unknowable and perhaps a bit scary. But the promises of Easter we do know, new life through Jesus, an eternal hope for the future, these are the certainties that we have celebrated for over 2,000 years, and they will not change. Because of this hope we walk in faith, not in fear. Death has been defeated.

Rev. Alan Wood, 
Vicar, All Saints’ Anglican Church, Jakarta