The Joys of Easter Feasting During Global Pandemic
Two weeks ago at HEB, I saw that caviar was on sale. 50% off, for reasons that should be obvious to any observer of the current state of our grocery stores. Staples like flour, yeast, pasta, and beans have flown off the shelves while the more frivolous sections have been nearly shuttered. The fancy cheese section has been full of discount stickers. The best French brie was finally affordable, and I thought - an Easter miracle! So I bought the caviar and the brie, and we haven’t opened them yet, but we will when the time comes, maybe when it’s the 41st day of Easter and the 75th day of sheltering-in-place, when something is needed to remind our family that we believe in Resurrection, and therefore that death is not final.
I’ve been reminded of a great essay entitled Feasting as an Act of War, which looks at how C.S. Lewis presents feasts in the Chronicles of Narnia as acts of war against the evil queen Jadis. The author writes:
“The animals’ feast bellows out hope, joy, and the truth that Aslan is on the move. Who knew that some plum pudding and holly could be so offensive?”
You’ve no doubt felt the temptation to austerity during these times, to pinch pennies and make every dollar count. These actions, in themselves, are not opposed to feasting. Feasting does not require lavish expenditures or champagne with every dinner. It is rather that the heart rejoices in abundance where and when it is found in every form in which it is found. We can feast on more time at home, more time for hobbies or projects, long walks in the part, even more time to call our friends and check in on them. It can even mean giving away our abundance to allow others to feast! This feasting reveals that we Christians are motivated by hope in God and not by our circumstances, that we look to the things which are unseen for joy and strength. It seems to me that when we are most tempted to be worried, we should allow ourselves the joy of feasting. It is to say to the accuser: you cannot win! We might be deprived of the ability to worship together in our churches, and meet up with our friends in the pub, but you cannot take our feasting!
This week, I want to simply highlight, as I do every year in the Sunday announcements, that the Easter Feast lasts for 50 days, days in which we rejoice in the Lord’s abundant victory over sin and death, a victory that continues to play out in manifold ways, even in this strange time we are in. Take this time to sing the great hymns of Easter, shout Alleluias in the Daily Office, and take an extra nap or two. If you’ve been saving that bottle of wine, now is the time!
The second thing I want to say is that I’m missing worshipping with all of you like there’s a hole in my heart. Live-streams and podcasts are a shabby, if necessary for the moment, substitute for the Church’s worshipping life, which is founded upon the reality of the Lord’s Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. As these days hopefully come to a close, let us not forget the pain of isolation, and when the time comes, resolve to be diligent in the corporate worship of the Church.
An old story is told of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, who chaired the committee that translated the King James Bible. One of his jobs as bishop was to offer pastoral care to the Puritans locked up in the ecclesiastical jails. Visiting one Puritan pastor and hearing his complaint that the solitude was torture to him, Andrewes replied that he yearned for solitude, for the ability to pray without distraction and read the Scriptures without being beholden to many tasks. The Puritan simply said that solitude without the sweet salve of Christian fellowship was a fate he prayed the good bishop would never see. Let us then pray that when these days are over, we may again be feast upon the joy of seeing one another face-to-face.