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Easter Points to Signs of Hope After Two Hard Years of COVID and Unrest

Easter

Despite what you might have seen on social media, the Christian faith is not about a political party or a particular nation. In reality, the Christian faith is rooted in a cosmic story throughout history of a God who creates and redeems. It is a story of a God who sees our suffering, our rebellion and our lostness and responds in love.

And at the center of this story is Easter. It is where God fulfills his promises of victory through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is both of these events—Good Friday and Easter Sunday—that together capture God’s abiding love for his creation. On Good Friday, Christians celebrate God’s victory over the brokenness of our world through Christ’s death on the cross.

Just looking around, we see the effects of sin on our world. Hostility, suffering and oppression are so prevalent today, yet the Christian hope is that all these scourges are defeated through Jesus’ death on the cross.

On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection as victory over death itself. Through his resurrection, Jesus offers eternal life to those who believe in him.

In a pandemic season where both the brokenness of this world and the pain of death have been lived realities for many, Easter is the story of God’s love that transcends even seemingly insurmountable loss.

So when a Christian invites you to church services for Easter, it’s because of the belief that there is no better news than the good news, or the “gospel.”

That’s the hope we have in Jesus to forgive sin and free our hearts to love God and others.

In other words: It’s a story that Christians believe we must tell.

Church During COVID Pandemic

For the past two years, COVID-19 has forced the church to find new means of telling this story. In 2020, when the pandemic was still fresh and restrictions necessarily high, fewer churches held Easter services in the United States than ever.

Just before Easter 2020, only 3% of regular attendees said they planned to attend in-person services, according to one study, though 61% planned to watch online or on TV.

Though in-person attendance increased to 39% by last year, churches continued to struggle with celebrating Easter face to face.

With recent surveys suggesting that 62% of U.S. Christians could attend Easter services Sunday, and 1 in 10 of those who are religiously unaffiliated plan to do so as well, it appears we are returning to a sense of normalcy. And church leaders cannot wait to again tell the story of Easter.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and leads the Stetzer ChurchLeaders podcast. Ed is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.