Dispersed But Not Defeated
Reflections on Sunday Sermon, 12 April 2020, Easter Sunday:
“From The Rising Of The Son…”
By Madeline Ang
A dispersed congregation.
A near-empty church sanctuary.
But, wait, we also have a determined preacher.
Preacher Quek Tze Ming was indeed determined that our congregation would continue the tradition of our Easter greeting, despite the dispersion and distancing.
He then explained how we could do this together. First, he would greet us with “Christ is risen!”. The congregation, wherever we are, would respond with “He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!”. He also prepared us to recite the greeting in triad.
Whilst explaining and encouraging us to participate in this traditional Easter greeting, Tze Ming gave a powerful and poignant reminder. He stated that, “for a brief period in time, the church was down to one person (Mary Magdalene)” and she proclaimed that Christ has indeed risen again.
His Easter sermon painted the scenario where Mary Magdalene visited the Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter Sunday. She was deep in her grief when she discovered that the tomb was empty. Yet, in her grief, she turned to Jesus when he called her name (John 20:16). Using Mary as a model, Tze Ming exhorted us to “turn” to Jesus in our grief. What an apt application for such a time as this when COVID-19 has morphed into a pandemic reality and caused many people to drown in grief, frustration and confusion!
Thus, the stage was set.
Tze Ming proclaimed: “Christ is risen!”.
A lone voice, representing the congregation, responded firmly: “He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!”.
We joined in, on cue. Our voices soon blended with this lone voice. And, with each recurring greeting, our increasingly loud chant drowned this lone voice.
Tze Ming commented that it felt strange on his side to hear only a solitary voice representing the whole congregation. But, on our side, we heard each other’s voices loudly and clearly. He may not realise it, but we responded even resoundingly (and more urgently) than what we normally did at past years’ Easter greeting.
The congregation is indeed dispersed but not defeated.
The church sanctuary may be empty but the church, which is made up of God’s people, is not emptied of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.
We would unequivocally carry the Easter Sunday’s message in our hearts that, even if it is down to one person, Christ will be proclaimed!