An Easter Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow: Easter, 2020
It is still cold here at Forest Haven. Though all the snow has melted, a few flakes fell yesterday. Like everyone else, we are observing the need for social distancing. As it is quiet here even in normal times, social distancing has been the occasion for an extended retreat.
One of the things we love to do is go for walks, and we have been walking pretty much daily. Because school is out and many are working from home, we see many of our neighbors during our late afternoon walks. From a safe distance, of course.
This week, Holy Week, Psalm 23 is the weekly Psalm in one of my quiet time resources ("A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants"). One line in it struck me: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
Truly, we are now in a time where the phrase, "valley of the shadow of death" resonates in the deep places of our hearts. For many of us, Covid 19 is our first journey through this valley, and we are frightened. Even walks on quiet, country roads can't avoid the sense of another road, leading through dark places.
Yet, the Psalmist tells us he fears no evil for the Lord is with him. Can we say that now, living in the shadow of a great pandemic? I believe we can, because our walk through the valley of the shadow of death is an Easter walk. We've seen Good Friday give way to Easter and hopeless fear give way to a hope that made itself known to us in the resurrection of the crucified Jesus, our Lord.
Yes, our way does indeed wind its way through the valley of the shadow of death, and we don't know when our path will lead us out of the valley. Yet, even more than the Psalmist, we know that this valley of deep darkness will give way to the light of the risen Christ. And so we continue our way on God's paths of righteousness despite the dark valleys through which they lead us, knowing that our path begins and ends with Easter.
We are on an Easter walk and travelling on an Easter road. God is now with us more intimately and deeply than the Psalmist could know, and is with us to comfort us and strengthen us. Our Lord Jesus is “Immanuel,” Matthew’s account of the nativity tells us, “God with us.” He has gone through the valley of the shadow of death before us, and has conquered death. Deathly shadows have given way to the light of Christ.
Ours is an Easter walk, despite the world's darkness, our way lit by Christ.
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. . . If we walk in the light, as he
Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of
Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:5,7)