Sunday marks the second Easter during the coronavirus pandemic, which has been an unusual time for churches.
“Who would have thought that our main congregation would be online, where we wouldn’t see them?” said Gary Erdos, the senior Pastor at Trinity English Lutheran Church. “We’re used to gathering people in this big space and this holy season and nobody’s here. So that’s the weirdest thing. Nobody would have imagined this.”
Interestingly enough, the pastor said there are several parallels between the holiday’s story and the pandemic.
“When you start looking at the Easter story there are a few things that begin to jump out,” said Erdos. “First everybody was afraid… the Romans didn’t stop crucifying people for a long time, Jesus’ enemies are still there, people made mistakes. There’s all of this sort of tension going on in the story that you don’t notice. Kind of like us right now as a whole [in the pandemic].”
Erdos went on to explain how the holiday’s story includes a part where Jesus shows up after being resurrected and is not recognized.
“I guess it’s going to be like us when we all are able to go out and take our masks off,” said Erdos.
Despite people not being able to initially recognize Jesus, the story says they notice the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet. Erdos said that both Jesus and his followers become changed by the experience.
“Everything is new, but everything has changed. I think in some ways it’s kind of what’s going to happen to us once we all get back,” said Erdos. “We’re going to be excited to see one another and we’re excited to be together going to restaurants and movies and all that sort of stuff but it’s going to be different, though. We’re still going to have the effects of what it has been to live in this time.”
He said that not all of the potential changes could be bad, however. It could be remembering that there were people who were isolated, hungry and struggling to get jobs prior to the pandemic, which could lead people to be kinder and more helpful in the future.
As far as moving forward from the coronavirus, Erdos said he thinks it’s fair to say that many people are afraid, which is also how many people felt in the story of Easter.
“It’s the story of Easter Sunday morning, that the women run away from the tomb and they were afraid,” said Erdos. “We don’t know what the future is but what we say in church is that God’s going to be with us no matter how the story plays out. God and Jesus are going to go with us, and that’s what we hold on to really on Easter.”
Although churches typically are about bringing the community together in physical proximity, Erdos said COVID has forced the Trinity Luteran to get creative by hosting Zoom prayer times and live streaming its services. He said this has been a “blessing” because it allowed the church to expand its reach.
Erdos doesn’t think the church is able to return to “normal” just yet. He actually anticipates that many will continue to just worship from their homes.
“We’re hopeful that people will come back but we’re also hopeful that people stay with us, and we’re able to administer with them and connect with them through our video,” said Erdos.
On Saturday, Trinity English Lutheran Church is hosting an in-person Easter Sunday mass at Parkview Field. The service starts at 11 a.m.