Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Empty Church Easter


It was an unusual Easter this year. Because of the pandemic, most churches stayed closed and were as empty as the empty tomb was on the first Easter Sunday. I had prepared my service and placed it on YouTube. (Here

It was encouraging throughout the day to receive email comments from people who had watched it online. Earlier in the week, I had led a bible study on my computer from home and on Maundy Thursday held a 'Live” communion service from the manse over Facebook. For sure it is a strange new world!

I have nothing but praise for those who are out there working on the frontline. Our hospitals and medical services are strained to breaking point. Many are finding it hard to get the resources they need to fight this battle. Our retail workers are having to deal with their own fears, as well as bewildered and anxious customers. Many people are not able to work. Others are having to change the way they are working.

Others are facing economic uncertainty and, as always, this crisis seems to be hitting hardest those who have the least. Food banks are seeing more and more folk needing their services in the face of dwindling supplies. Everybody has been affected in some way or another. It is a similar story all around the world.

On Easter Sunday morning I came over to the church for a brief time of private prayer and intercession. I pictured what the place would have looked like had we been able to meet. I imagined the swell of the organ, the joy of our music, the voices of the children enjoying an Easter Egg hunt, the conversations of our fellowship time. I both prayed to God to help us travel through this time and thanked God that these days will not last forever.

On the way back to the manse I walked passed the amphitheater and saw that an 'anonymous someone' had placed a white cloth on the Cross to symbolize Christ's resurrection. The sight of that cross, and the thought that somebody had taken the time to drape it in white, gave me great hope. I sat on one of the benches and just gazed at the scene for a while.

Although we are in difficult times, it is those special moments, prompted by the thoughtful actions of others, that can give us cause for hope. Hard times can often bring out the best in people. That is a message that lies at the heart of the Easter story. The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus cast a shadow of darkness over the lives of His disciples that they never thought could be removed.

But on Easter morning, should we gather in our thousands or be confined to our homes, the message still rings out. “Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed!” The light has shined in the darkness, and the darkness cannot, and will not, overcome the light that is Jesus Christ.

For some Easter music, a rousing version of "Christ The Lord is Risen Today"

Prayer: Lord our God, we continue to lift up the nations in prayers as we together fight against this coronavirus. Bless those working towards an antidote. Bless those seeking to maintain social order. Bless those in our medical services faced with such an overwhelming task. Bless our retail workers, suppliers and emergency services. Bless those who have suffered loss. May we know that Your light still shines and that the darkness will never have the last word. Amen.

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