Easter Sunday is one of my very favorite days of the entire year. It is so filled with celebration, hope, and life. Yet, there are times when proclamations of victory over death seem a little more challenging to believe. What an odd era to be living in: this time of already, but not yet, when death has been defeated, yet is still allowed to exist. In this season, our songs of Christ’s victory are anthems of our present belief, but also our future hope. We believe that Christ has risen from the grave and conquered death, and hope for a time when that victory is fully realized.
This year, as the entire world seems to be affected by COVID-19, the reality of death seems especially present. This is particularly true in many Word Made Flesh communities, as people may find themselves in places that are especially vulnerable to disease and starvation.
However, though the need in these places is indeed very real, hope is a reality as well.
Staff in Moldova have been able to offer a packet of food and household essentials to some families in their community. Rachel Dyachenko, encourages everyone to find out what is going on in their own neighborhoods, and look for how to get involved in a safe way. “Because there is so much good happening right now,” Dyachenko says. “People are reaching out across boundaries, and helping each other out.” (You can support WMF Moldova here).
WMF staff in Peru share that some of the women in their network have looked beyond their own needs to the needs of their community. One woman distributed staple goods to 14 households in her neighborhood. WMF Peru Director Anna Monteviller says she is confident this can be replicated with other contacts around the city. “Let’s not let ‘social isolation’ be something that divides us, nor an excuse to turn away from solidarity with each other,” Monteviller says. “Let’s allow this forced isolation to spur creativity, that our shared mission might be bringing faith, hope, and bread to our neighbors.” (You can support WMF Peru here).
WMF staff in Sierra Leone have put many programs on hold for now, but continue to invest in youth, children, and women individually. Staff recently held a mass sensitization program in Kroo Bay, providing accurate information about COVID-19 through voices and posters. Hand washing stations are also set up at entry points into the area. The Good News Club recently focused on hand-washing to better protect the kids as well. (You can support WMF Sierra Leone here).
What a privilege it is to live in an era when we get to celebrate the hope of Easter morning. This past week as we walked through the grief of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we knew the entire time that the hope of Easter morning was just ahead.
The Disciples did not have this privilege. They did not understand that the tomb would not stay shut forever. How hopeless the followers of Jesus must have felt as He hung on the cross, and then was laid in that tomb. I’ve wondered if, in their deep grief, they were tempted to be shut up in the grave as well. Perhaps they said “hope is dead, and so are we!”
Of course, we know now that as dawn rose on the third day, Jesus surprised His followers with life. Death and darkness defeated.
And yet, in a world that still seems so full of death, it can be hard to remember this hope.
But as we look around and examine our communities, locally and worldwide, we indeed see hope springing forth in the midst of suffering. As we look at the deep need across the globe, may we ask Jesus to surprise us with life.
This reflection was written by Jenifer Jones, a masters student at Asbury Seminary currently interning at Word Made Flesh. We are thankful for her words which offer hope to us this Easter.