This month, the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church will celebrate the Pascha of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. This most blessed and foundational Feast Day, however, will be celebrated in a different manner this year than that to which we have become accustomed. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, our usually bustling and packed churches and community centers will be largely empty, with only very few people remaining inside our buildings to lead us in prayer. Most will be participating remotely from our homes, as we have done for most of Lent, and all of Holy Week. And while we will find ourselves worshiping spiritually together, we will still be aware that we are physically distant. Though difficult and strange, this even painful circumstance has not left us without a significant opportunity as Christians – and it is one we must not miss!

As worshipers of God, we must be reminded that even in this current difficulty we have not been excluded from proper worship of God. In fact, we are called to worship God in all parts of our life. Indeed, we are still abundantly able to truly love, honor, and worship our Lord, and keep rightly this coming festal season in its fullness. Consider the Epistle of Saint James, where we faithful are told in the first chapter of his letter that we are to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.” We are further reminded that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  That is, we are reminded and challenged to worship God with our actions, and specifically to our present situation, by how we choose to engage with, care for, and witness to the world around us that is now enduring this hardship of disease, financial uncertainty, anxiety, and loss of life.

Brothers and sisters, for we who dare to call ourselves Christians, in the midst of this pandemic there is much doing that must be done! And this doing will need to be offered in concrete and tangible forms of love that truly meet Christ in His suffering. How might our Lord have us keep this commandment of service, love, and worship during this affliction? Most assuredly by joyfully caring for the vulnerable, the afflicted, the suffering, and the sick, and by loving in palpable and positive ways those people around us who are hurting – those in our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.

If we say we desire to worship God and be near Him, let us do so not only in vigil prayers and fasting, but also in our actions of service. Let us proclaim the Resurrected Lord of Glory not only in hymn and psalmody, but also in our actions of genuine philanthropy. Let us love the Founder of Immortality by eagerly going forth to comfort those overwhelmed and grieving. Let us joyfully proclaim victory of God over death by feeding the hungry, supplying those in need, and seeking out the sick. Let us be encouraged and emboldened to keep pure and undefiled this Faith given to us. There is no act or offering too small.

Everyone may do their part by reaching out to and touching base with the elderly, neighbors, or families in need, to ask whether they need groceries or medicine delivered to them. Everyone is able to call family, friends, and parishioners to check in on and pray with them. Everyone is able in this way to cry out through acts of mercy and almsgiving that “God is with us!” and that “Christ is Risen!

Let us then make bold and gird ourselves to keep and honor this greatest Feast Day and Paschal season. Let us be true doers of the Word, witnessing to the God of love by doing for others whatever acts and offerings we are able. And let us by doing so, and by God’s grace, to become the presence of Christ – true Christians to those suffering around us. Pascha 2020 will be different, but by our actions and humble faithfulness may it be so for the Glory of God and the salvation of the world.

Kalo Pascha!