Church Unity, Liturgical Seasons

What an “Easter Banquet” for Those in Need Looks Like During COVID

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
– Proverbs 16:9

We knew it was coming, but now that it has passed we can confirm it.  This Easter was strange.  What began suddenly as a strange season of Lent culminated in a strange Holy week and even stranger Easter.  Nothing was as it “ought to be.”  No family feasts, no large sunrise services, no crying out in one voice as a multitude, “Christ is risen!”  In our heart we had made our plans, and then… Coronavirus.

As Coracle’s new Community Minister to the Shenandoah Valley, I had been carefully crafting, among other things, a so-called “Easter Banquet.”  The idea was to see this Easter as the launch of a new Kingdom Action collaboration among churches and nonprofits in Harrisonburg, for a monthly practice we’d called “Sunday Banquet.” 

The vision was (and still is!) to invite gospel churches of Harrisonburg to partner with the non-profit Our Community Place (OCP) in order to have a monthly Banquet that includes a veritable feast, as well as times of games and fellowship with our area’s homeless population.

Enter Coronavirus.  It was as though a great big sign was hanging over all of Easter weekend that read, “NO BANQUETS ALLOWED!”

So, what to do?  After all, Coronavirus did not stop the truth of Christ’s resurrection, and as followers of Jesus, we had to bear witness through word and deed in some creative way, especially among the homeless whose lives are most drastically being affected.

So, we did what we could.  In the end, two non-profits, two churches, and an outreach ministry to the homeless all worked together to make the best of a difficult situation.  Young people from Church of the Incarnation’s Youth Family made and packaged hundreds of homemade cookies, our friends from The Table provided hams and side dishes of mac n’ cheese, OCP staff cooked up a bunch off food, and Early Church sent a few of its bravest volunteers to assemble and serve the to-go containers while offering an opportunity for folks to give thanks.  After the meal, a friend read aloud the story of the empty tomb while folks spread out in the OCP lawn sat listening as though transfixed, and then a number of us joined together to sing songs of hope. 

While it would have been great to experience a true “banquet” feast together– one where we hold hands to say what we are thankful for, sit together at tables and pass the food around like a big ol’ family– that was not possible this year.  We had made our plans, but in the end, God directed our steps, and those steps, though not ideal, were nonetheless very good.  I think that, given the current context, that is a path a lot of us will be needing to learn to walk in the coming weeks and months. As all our many plans get upended, may God continue to faithfully guide our steps. After all, “Christ is Risen.”

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