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It’s “Hallelujah, anyhow” this Easter Sunday | PennLive Editorial

Worship and the celebration of Easter don’t have to be inside a church.

Easter Sunday is the one day a Christian wants to be in church. Even if the pews sit near empty the rest of the year, there’s a good chance they’ll be filled on Easter Sunday.

That’s not the case this year. Many churches won’t even open their doors this Easter. Some are opening despite warnings of a pandemic resurgence, but even if they do, what many call “Resurrection Sunday” will be far from normal this year.

Masks will join Easter bonnets and white shoes in the holiday costume. Pews will not be packed – or they shouldn’t be. And choirs will not belt out “He Arose” with the same vim and vigor as tradition requires.

Bethel AME Portland prepares for Easter

For Easter 2021, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church formed a new choir that will make its debut Sunday. It won’t take the place of the existing choir, but will be more inclusionary, made up of people recruited from the metropolitan area. The choir will be multicultural and multigenerational, made up of people from all faiths and those of no faith. The musical group is directed by LaRhonda Steele and overseen by the Rev. Terry McCray Hill, pastor of the church. Mark Graves/The Oregonian

Yet, it is still Easter, the holiest day in the Christian calendar. And it’s a fitting time to remember the one message pastors and leaders of all faiths have emphasized during these past months of pandemic and isolation:

God isn’t confined to the four walls of a church. Worship and the celebration of Easter don’t have to be, either.

Whether in a cathedral or around a kitchen table, millions of the faithful still will celebrate the day when they believe Jesus Christ arose from the grave after being crucified on a cross and spending three days in a garden tomb.

Pope Francis celebrates mass

Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, March 24, 2013. The new pontiff arrived in an uncovered vehicle to start solemn Holy Week ceremonies, which lead up to Easter, Christianity's most important day. Francis wore bright red robes over a white cassock and presided over the Mass from an altar sheltered by a canopy on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)AP

Millions still will sing their favorite hymns, reread the story of the empty tomb in John 20 and sign onto an online church anywhere in the world. You could even virtually worship with the Pope at the Vatican this Easter Sunday.

There’s another point many faith leaders have emphasized that’s worth remembering this Easter Sunday. It isn’t so much what you do inside a church; It’s what you do outside of its four walls that matters.

Many Christians sadly concede their churches have not done enough to create a better world or to better their local communities. Too many lament they have not welcomed the refugee, clothed the naked or fed the hungry. And too many confess they have not spoken out against the evils of our time – racism, xenophobia and crimes against the LGBT community.

Homeless in a pandemic

Aisha Mobley, Community Mobilization Coordinator for Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area, talks on a virtual meeting while at the homeless encampment near PennDot in Harrisburg on Dec. 10, 2020. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Many Christians will be the first to say they have not done enough to stand with the oppressed, the vulnerable and the helpless, as Christ did.

But the beauty of Easter is that it brings the promise of renewal, the chance to be reborn; to shake off the dust and resurrect hope.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry sends regrets

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the U.S. Episcopal Church was expected to attend the consecration of Bishop-elect Glenda Curry on June 27 in Birmingham. Because of precautions against spreading coronavirus, he sent his regrets. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)AP

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry put it this way in his Easter 2021 message: “Our work goes on. Our labor for love continues. We will not cease, and we will not give up until this world reflects less our nightmare and more God’s dream, where there’s plenty good room for all God’s children.”

The Bishop concluded, “Hallelujah, anyhow.”

Hallelujah, anyhow. And Happy Easter, anywhere and anyway you celebrate it this year.

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