Easter gives hope to the Christian

Published 11:01 am Monday, April 17, 2017

This weekend marks the holiest day of the year on the Christian calendar, although for many it represents simply a time for family to get together, Little League baseball games, and outings to the beach or elsewhere.

More and more, our social landscape is becoming secular as the most recent surveys show that a greater number of Americans say they don’t believe in God, don’t pray daily, and don’t attend church regularly.

Fifty years ago, Time Magazine asked in a famous headline, “Is God Dead?” The magazine wondered whether religion was relevant to modern life in the post-atomic age when communism was spreading and science was explaining more about our natural world than ever before.

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We’re still asking the same question. But the response isn’t limited to yes or no. A chunk of the population born after the article was printed may respond to the provocative question with, “God who?” In Europe and North America, the unaffiliated tend to be several years younger than the population average. And 11 percent of Americans born after 1970 were raised in secular homes.

Scientific advancement isn’t just making people question God, it’s also connecting those who question. It’s easy to find atheist and agnostic discussion groups online, even if you come from a religious family or community. And anyone who wants the companionship that might otherwise come from church can attend a secular Sunday Assembly or one of a plethora of meetups for humanists, atheists, agnostics, or skeptics.

For millions of Christians around the world, Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection. For millions of Jews, Passover represents the celebration of the release of the Israelites from the Egyptian pharaohs.

Easter, of course, occurs at the advent of our season of rebirth in the natural as well as the spiritual world. After the long trials of winter, life bursts forth from winter’s death-like grip. Green leaves unfurl, flowers carpet the landscape, the great migrations of fish, birds and wildlife begin, the everyday lives of ordinary people begin to open into the pleasures of summer and the eventual abundance of fall.

The ideal of Easter for many people is to merely contemplate the moment, whether it is religious in nature or not. Maybe you go to church every Sunday, or maybe you only go to church on Easter Sunday. Maybe you don’t go to church at all, or maybe you don’t belong to a Judeo-Christian religion. No matter. The contemplation of renewal is a useful exercise.

Consider this moment in history: We have the greatest technology, but we cannot stop killing each other, often with terrible efficiency. We have the greatest health care, but we cannot provide it to everyone. We have the greatest food-production system, and millions of bellies are wanting. We have the greatest transportation system, but we can’t get there from here.

Yet, Christians have something that secularism or no other religion can offer — hope. It’s the answer to the clamor of intolerance, extreme violence, and hateful rhetoric that have increasingly given voice in the world.

Easter is more than renewal, it is hope.