Sounds of a socially distant Easter


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, April 13th.  You’re listening to The World and Everything in It, and we’re glad you are! Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next: sounds of Easter, 2020. 

Christians around the globe celebrated the miracle of Christ’s resurrection yesterday, even in the midst of stay-at-home orders and quarantines. 

During last week’s CNN town hall meeting on the coronavirus, Pastor Rick Warren reminded viewers that COVID-19 might prevent churches from gathering, but the pandemic has no power to cancel Easter.

WARREN: As shepherds we are called to protect the flock of God, not just lead it, and feed it. And if you really love your congregation, tell them to stay home on Easter. That’s going to curtail the assembly, but it’s not going to curtail the celebration… 

EICHER: So church leaders and pastors got creative. WORLD reporter Paul Butler brings us a special report on how Christians around the world celebrated Easter during these interesting days.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Churches in New Zealand were some of the first on the globe to kick off Easter 2020. Auckland Evangelical Church pre-produced an online service with a fellowship time afterward using Zoom:

EV AUCKLAND: Well, good morning and welcome to church! My name is Rowan, and I’m one of the pastors here. So glad you can join us for EV online. It’s such a shame we can’t gather together in person but at least we can come together today around the Word of God, and what a day it is, so we’re going to sing together of how great it is that Jesus rose from the dead. Let’s sing: “Seek Him now, the King of Heaven…” 

Hour by hour, from east to west, Christians of many denominations joined the chorus. In the Philippines, Union Church of Manila reused some of last year’s Easter service video of children covering a cross in flowers. 

LYRIC: Christ the Lord is risen today, hallelujah…

Pastor Chad Williams hosted the rest of the service from his living room with his young daughter at his side. He had a novel way of making the service interactive.

CHAD WILLIAMS: I’m going to say “He is risen” and you’re going to respond “He is risen indeed” three times. But what I’m asking you to do, because I can’t see you all on Easter Sunday, I want you to get out your cellphones and do the selfie thing. Then I want you to post them to our Facebook page or send them to my email account…so here we go. He is risen! He is risen indeed! 

A lot of digital Easter services included combined efforts—musicians and pastors from multiple churches recording videos together. 

SONG: JESUS, YOU ALONE ARE WORTHY

Reach SA, a ministry of the Church of England in South Africa, provided a combined service from St. James Church Kenilworth in Capetown. Bishop Glenn Lyons preached the message: 

LYONS: The conversation that Hebrews wants you to have is not what’s in store with you in relation to this coronavirus, it’s what’s in store for you in relation to God at the end, whenever that may come?

In Latvia, 120 to 150 people usually attend the Ventspils Baptist Church. Their YouTube video of Sunday’s Easter service has had more than 200 views.

[EASTER GREETING ]

Many of the traditional service elements took place from the church sanctuary, as musicians and leaders remained at least 6 feet away from each other. But a choir can’t spread out that much, so many churches—including Ventspils Baptist Church—produced a virtual choir piece to play during the service:

[EASTER SONG IN LATVIAN]

Many pastors around the world connected this Easter to that first resurrection Sunday. Like Grace Midtown’s Matt Reynolds in Atlanta, Georgia.

MATT REYNOLDS: A lot of us are in these shelter-in-place orders. We’re in our houses, and when you read the gospels and the resurrection story, it’s actually amazing that you find in John chapter 20, verse 19, the disciples basically doing the exact same thing that we’re doing…

Across town at Berean Baptist Church, Pastor Roger Skepple spoke to an empty sanctuary, but kept the feel of any other Sunday—leading his people in prayer as though they were sitting right there in the pews with him. 

SKEPPLE: Even at times like this, we can reach out to others. We can share the gospel, be conduits of mercy to other people. Help us to look beyond ourselves. 

[SOUND OF CARS ARRIVING AT SERVICE]

While most Easter services were virtual, Nassau Bay Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, took a different approach. They ordered a low-power radio transmitter and invited their more than 350 members to come to the church parking lot for a drive-in sunrise service. 

SOUND: This Easter Sunday, it’s great to see all of you here and want to welcome you. If you can hear me, flash your lights so I know we’re coming through.

The audio fidelity was a little sketchy, but no one seemed to mind. Roy and Ruth Fletcher were just glad to worship and celebrate resurrection Sunday with their friends, even if separated by car doors. 

FLETCHER: I’m just kind of overwhelmed with the amount of cars here this morning…it’s fantastic, it’s good to see that everybody is doing ok…

Easter 2020 was not all online services and parking lots though. WORLD heard from one lay leader ministering in a camp for displaced persons near a war zone abroad. He went from tent to tent declaring the resurrection—one family at a time. Others marked the day in silent praise, suffering persecution or imprisonment for their faith. 

But from one end of the globe to the other, Christians declared the news of Christ’s victory over the grave and his completed work of salvation. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. 

SONG: God of glory majesty, praise forever to the King of Kings. Praise forever to the King of Kings.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/Ventspils Baptist Church)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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