The pandemic lock-down last spring happened just weeks before Easter, and the faithful on Fort Belvoir – for nearly a year – have been without the physical component of Christian life, according to Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Tom Faichney.
“Easter is about victory; it’s not just a seasonal component about life – if the grave isn’t empty, there’s no point to the Christian religion. It is the apex of the Calendar,” said Faichney. “We ought not give up the freedom of assembly and free exercise of religion, even during a pandemic.”
This year was different, due to the hard work of the Religious Support Office and Chaplain (Maj.) Eric Park, who received an exception to policy, to host an Easter sunrise service at the Officers’ Club for 100 attendees, which were properly spaced and located in two different ballrooms.
“It was a joint effort of multiple chaplains on the installations and others who co-officiated. It became a true Christian faith community, from different faiths and services,” said Park, noting that several others assisted, including Chaplain Faichney; Chaplain (Col.) Robert Allman, the command chaplain for Regional Health Command, Atlantic and Chaplain (Capt.) Stu Williams.
The sermon, by Chaplain (Col.) Steve Prost, chief of policy and government affairs for the office of the chief of chaplains, was focused on the last two sentences of the Gospel of Mark. An angel tells the women in the empty tomb, “There you will see him, just as he told you. So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
Prost said that Mark’s gospel reveals “astonishment and fear is the heart’s reaction to the revelation of Jesus Christ throughout,” adding that his followers were amazed, to the point of terror, when he casts out a demon and heals a paralytic.
“Jesus is the great, fearsome one, as he reveals his power to heal; to teach. We begin to see what Mark was doing to get a sense of the scale of something. It climaxes with the greatest fear: the fear of death. We see that Jesus conquers death. He delivers all those who, through fear of death, were subject to life-long slavery,” said Prost.
Prost said fear is not something you balance with joy – it intensifies your joy at the glory of your God. Mark is transposing a fear of death and showing how Jesus towers over it.
The service is available for viewing at facebook.com/FortBelvoirRSO.