Dear Mayfair family,
Bad news. It seems as if that’s all we hear these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 20,000 American lives — and we’re told the worst is still yet to come. For many of us, the rhythm of life has been disrupted and we find ourselves in the midst of a new normal that seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Now, “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” are phrases that will surely haunt us for decades to come.
As a church family, we will be celebrating Easter Sunday tomorrow — but that celebration isn’t quite what any of us anticipated. Instead of gathering together at 1095 Carl T. Jones Drive, we will be worshipping in our homes tomorrow. And while that creates some unique opportunities for us as families, this new reality can also be disappointing, especially on a morning like tomorrow. No Easter dresses; no egg hunts; no lunch at grandmother’s…those are just a few of the things we’ll be missing tomorrow.
And more importantly, we’ll be missing each other tomorrow, just as we have for the past several weeks. We miss our church family so much right now. We miss the joy of fellowship with our sisters and brothers; we miss hearing your laughter; we miss joining our voices together in praise; we miss our seat on the third row; we miss praying together with one heart; we miss communing together and studying together and sharing meals together….all of these things that are a part of our life together as a community.
We want you to know that our hearts ache with you and the unique challenges you’re facing in these days. Our hearts ache for the young parents who are working from home while also helping their children stay on task with their schoolwork. We ache for caregivers unable to be near their loved ones in hospitals and care facilities. We ache for the small business owner who faces some difficult financial decisions. We ache for the new Mommies whose playdates have been interrupted — we know those dates were as much for you as they were for your babies! We ache for those who are quarantined alone, whose homes are much quieter than they wish.
We weep with those who are weeping right now, just as you have always joined us in our own seasons of lament.
And yet, we remember that this is a season of hope, a season of Good News.
We remember that the resurrection of Jesus — the most glorious event in human history — burst forth in the midst of hopeless circumstances such as these. Good News audaciously announced in a graveyard, of all places.
We want you to know that just as surely as our hearts ache with you, our hearts also hope along with you. Our hearts are full of hope that someday soon, we will be gathered together again under one roof. And what a day of celebration that will be! Until that day comes, we take heart in the movements of the people of God. Day after day, we are blown away by the stories we are hearing about the things you are doing in your communities in the name of Jesus. So much ministry has taken place in the last month — more than we can even recount. It’s simply enough to say, “Thank you, Lord,” for the opportunities He’s given us to be the hands and feet of Christ through simple, everyday acts of kindness and compassion.
And we take heart in the actions of those in our community — those who continue to work and serve in spite of these circumstances. We give thanks for our health care professionals, our first responders, our police officers and fire and rescue crews and utility teams and countless others whose selflessness reminds us of the selfless character of Jesus — whether they profess His name or not.
We take heart that although we seem to have lost much in the last few weeks, what we have gained might be even greater. Many of us have a better perspective on what really matters as we’ve been forced to adapt to a simpler way of life. Our neighborhoods are filled with people walking and waving at each other — from a safe distance, for sure, but we seem to have returned to a spirit of neighborliness. Many families are sharing time around the table more often — perhaps as many as three times a day. At our home, our dishwasher has been running constantly and we are certainly grateful for that.
In this difficult time, we simply wanted to remind you that Easter has never been about pretty dresses and egg hunts and lunch at grandma’s — as great as those things might be. More than anything else, Easter is about hope — the hope of glory, Jesus Christ. It is about an empty grave laughably exposed by a man who wouldn’t stay dead. It is about the hope that even in this present darkness, God will find a way. Because the empty tomb declares that He always finds a way.
From the darkness of this Saturday night, we join in the refrain of all creation: Sunday is coming! For He is risen! And nothing in heaven above or hell below will ever change that. Therefore we keep hope alive. For this is the unchangeable truth of eternity: Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord who makes all things new — time without limit, world without end. Amen.
Happy Easter, Mayfair.
Jason and Sunny Bybee