by JULIE & ROCCO MAGLIO
The Easter and Passover holidays of 2020 will be remembered for the virtual lockdown that the nation was under. People celebrated the holidays in different ways. Some celebrated at home talking to family over video chat, attending online services and some went to drive-in church services.
Normally holidays are a chance to reconnect with family and friends. Holidays mark the few times a year that many extended families get together. This year there were few of these family gatherings as the families stayed apart to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Places of worship were particularly hard hit by the lack of services over the holidays. Many who don’t normally attend services show up for the major services. Although many churches and temples used online live streaming to present their services, they raised little money this way. It is hard to pass the virtual collection plate.
There is also the issue where many people do not feel comfortable online. Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Jim Pankow said half of his congregation does not go online. That is why Grace Lutheran Church decided to provide drive-in services, broadcasting the sermon over the FM radio so parishioners could listen in their cars. This also affords them the ability to wave to their friends and enjoy the service together to some degree.
Pastor Pankow stood in the back of his pickup truck, before a podium to deliver the service to his faithful church members. He spoke the traditional Paschal greeting, “The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” Which was received by the jubilant honking of horns.
One scripture reading he shared was taken from Colossians Chapter 3. “In it the Apostle reminds us to be focused on the things above. RIght now, it’s so easy for us to be focused on the things here and now- on a virus. But keep our eyes focused on things above,” he said.
At Northcliffe Church, church members organized a food drive on Easter Sunday after services. It was a literal “food drive” as church and community members drove up to the church and handed the food items through their car windows. Volunteers took the items, disinfected them and brought them inside the church to be organized. The food drive officially began at 10:30am, but cars began arriving half an hour prior.
Within an hour they filled up several long tables with non-perishable food items and supplies. Half of the collection will be used to stock the church’s food pantry and the other half has been donated to Jericho Road Ministries.
Northcliffe Church posted to their Facebook page, “Today we saw hundreds of people contribute to our Drive Thru Food Drive after our service! Thanks so much for contributing to our Food Pantry and Jericho Road Ministries and being the hands and feet of Jesus. We loved seeing you all (from a distance)!”
At Greatlife Church they held drive-in services with a live band. Some worshipers sat atop their cars, some brought picnic blankets to sit on and lawn chairs. Both young and old reached toward Heaven with their prayers. Parents danced with their children in the back of their pickup trucks. An electricity was felt in the air that surely revealed the presence of a higher power.
Many people were brought together, as they sought innovative ways to pray and worship. One could say we are currently a slave to this virus. Both Easter and Passover deal with freedom from enslavement.
By looking toward Heaven and having faith we can overcome COVID-19 and connect with each other once again.