04.14.2020 | FFH | Episode 2
In this (brief) episode, our own Revd Dr. James M. Arcadi reflects on the distinctiveness of Easter this year and how we continue to lament and wait, even though we celebrate the risen Christ.
Tune in to hear from James. #forewordingfromhome
All content © 2020 Foreword Podcast.
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You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.
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Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m James Arcadi. The podcast team thought it would be cool to offer some Easter greetings to you all for this episode of “Forewording from Home.” I volunteered, or perhaps, actually, I was volunteered to do the greeting, so I thought I’d just offer a few reflections on this very, very different Easter. “Unprecedented” has been perhaps an overused term in the age of coronavirus, but really, how else can we describe this time? Millions of Christians across the globe are unable to go to church on Easter Sunday morning, a season of celebration is unable to be celebrated in groups of more than ten here in Illinois—more than two for my friends in the UK. Instead of an Easter break from our classes, our online distance-learning continues on with our schedules seemingly uninterrupted. In a very real sense, for me at least, it feels kind of like Lent isn’t actually over. Baseball season hasn’t started yet, but Lent is kind of going into extra innings, and it feels like perhaps this season will… will never end. It’s unprecedented. And yet, I was reminded by a pastoral colleague of mine at my church that there might, in fact, be a precedent for our experience of Easter this year—the precedent indeed being the very first Easter. The resurrection has already occurred, yet this Lent-like season of waiting feels like it’s continuing. And in fact, it might be that we, here and now in this Easter season—in 2020—it might be that we’re having an Easter Sunday “afternoon” experience.
You know, think about the timeline on that day, on the very first Easter. The Gospel of John describes an early morning scene where Mary Magdalene sees the Resurrected Christ. And we have Peter and we have the disciple Jesus loved running to the tomb that morning to find it empty, as women had told the Apostles. And this was reported to the other disciples, but these other disciples had not yet seen the Risen Christ. Then, we get to John chapter 20, verse 19—John 20:19—that says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” But it was on the Sunday evening that Jesus came and appeared to these disciples. For many of the disciples, the Sunday afternoon was still a time of waiting, and in fact, we might say it was a time even of “self isolation,” as the disciples were huddled together with the doors being locked. How similar is this even to our own time—for these…for these “Sunday afternoon” disciples, the resurrection had occurred, the reality of Christ’s defeat of death had already happened, and yet… and yet they were still waiting that afternoon. They were still distraught, they were still feeling a range of emotions. I have to imagine they were, in fact, still confused—even more confused—on Sunday afternoon, due to the strange reports about that morning they had been hearing. It was not until the afternoon had drawn to a close, and the evening had come, that these disciples finally get to see the Risen Christ, and He finally offers His peace.
So I wonder if…if we too are kind of like these disciples. The resurrection has occurred, Easter has happened, and yet we are still waiting. We’re waiting for this pandemic to settle down. We’re waiting for our “shelter in place” orders to be lifted. We’re waiting to rejoin together with churches and friends and classmates and students and all kinds of other members of our communities to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But we aren’t quite there yet. We’ve not quite fully reached Easter Sunday evening this year. And if I might just press a little bit further, I think we’re like the disciples on this Sunday afternoon also because, like them, we don’t know when this is going to be over. Those disciples didn’t know that Jesus was going to show up in their room on that Sunday evening. They didn’t know that their distress and confusion was going to end and they certainly didn’t know when it was going to end. All they could do was continue to wait. And friends, we don’t know when our situation is going to change. We don’t know how long this “Sunday afternoon” is going to last. Here in Illinois, our “shelter in place” is set through April 30th, but no one knows if this is going to be the end. The TEDS semester is pivoted online distance-education for the rest of the term, but we don’t know what the summer looks like—or even the fall. And so…and so we continue to wait. We wait in this odd “mix,” perhaps, of personal celebration and communal isolation—an odd mix of Easter joy, tinged with a bit of Lenten sorrow. We wait knowing Christ has been raised from the dead this Sunday morning, but still bears the scars of that Friday afternoon. We wait here on this long Sunday afternoon, in the hope that evening will come, and Christ will give us his peace once again. But that’s just the Foreword.
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Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.
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