As the pandemic again prevented most Jewish and Christian communities from observing Passover and Easter in person, joyful celebrations continued, infused with the sense of hope exemplified by both holidays — and by the progress toward ending the pandemic.
Though faith leaders’ Easter and Passover messages largely focused on the pandemic’s end, the coronavirus’s ongoing costs and dangers still permeated the holidays. Currently, state guidelines allow indoor religious services to proceed with up to half of a building’s maximum occupancy, or up to 10 occupants per 1,000 square feet. Many congregations continue to skip in-person services altogether.
COVID-19 also prevented the multigenerational family gatherings that usually mark both holidays, Passover in particular. The holidays reminded many families of loved ones lost to the pandemic — a grief that several religious leaders acknowledged in special services and memorials over the weekend.
Some congregations reflected on other forms of loss that have accumulated in the past year, which for many communities has been marked by sharp rises in unemployment and poverty, heightened racial violence against Asian and Black Americans, and political turmoil.
At St. Luke’s-San Lucas Episcopal Church in Chelsea, Father Edgar Gutiérrez-Duarte’s bilingual and multicultural congregation has long discussed these issues. Easter Sunday will be no different, he said.
“The whole message of the three [Easter holy] days can be resolved in one: love,” he said.