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Easter is a season of hope and renewal

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) On Sunday, Christians around the world will be celebrating the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Normally this week would be filled with religious services following Jesus’s path from his superstar welcome into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his crucifi xion and death on Good Friday and culminating with his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

In place of packed church pews, this year the faithful will be tuned into their mobile devices, computer monitors, radios and televisions to hear the good word. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the churches to the public to prevent the spread of the illness. As we have seen throughout history, diseases-causing pathogens have little regard for faith or human holidays. They are creatures of opportunity spread most swiftly among large gatherings, especially among the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Closing the churches and keeping them closed despite it being the Easter season was the correct choice to protect public health. Last weekend’s request by some members of the state legislature to allow an exception to social distancing orders for Easter church services was a cheap political stunt aimed at trying to undermine support for Gov. Tony Evers and state public health officials. Playing politics when peoples’ lives are at stake is beyond reproach.

While political leaders and medical experts work to protect public health, church leaders across denominations and of all creeds are equally hard at work ensuring people’s spiritual health.

The Easter message of sacrifice, resiliency in faith and rebirth is especially meaningful in light of current world and local concerns. While people in this region have largely viewed the COVID-19 pandemic as an inconvenience causing cancellations and hurting their livelihoods, those in larger communities have seen the deathly seriousness of it firsthand.

It would be easy to slip into despair. Just as it is easy on the lenten journey in the weeks before Easter to lose faith.

In troubled times, it is important to not lose faith. There must be faith that there will be brighter days ahead. There must be faith that there is an inscrutable plan to all of this. Helping people keep the faith is why religious and spiritual leaders are so important in times such as these.

During this Easter season, take the time to tune in to your or another church’s broadcast or streaming service. Remember that while all those watching or listening are physically apart, they are still connected by bonds that transcend this earth.

In this time of darkness, doubt and fear it is important to keep the faith.