Hanover » There is good news, even though almost everything else stands still: “Easter does not fail,” says Carsten Splitt, spokesman for the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The spreading coronavirus also strangles Easter. Services are cancelled, Easter fires are postponed, families cannot meet. But with creativity – and digital technology – Easter has a chance.
What are the churches doing?
There are no normal services, but the congregations are resourceful in creating fellowship at Easter, says Splitt. Television and radio worship services are currently in demand, ratings have skyrocketed. In addition, there are digital offers “up to the streaming living room service”. For little Internet-savvy people, there are telephone calls. “The resurrection of Jesus is an appointment with an eternal character,” says Hanover’s Bishop Ralf Meister. In crises, Easter had “always worked as a DNA of hope for societies”.
The Catholic Diocese of Hildesheim has launched an emergency program for Easter, as a spokeswoman says. Accordingly, worship services take place “in a very reduced form” – in empty churches, but via an audio stream. That was well-received. The services would be broadcast on television on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
Worship from the lucky bag
Pastor Jorg Mosig hangs “surprise bags” on a clothesline at the church in Easter in his new parish in Heiligendorf near Wolfsburg, which contains sermon texts, an Easter candle, chocolate and jokes. The small candle can be lit by a large Easter candle placed outside. “We are not going to let the crisis get us down,” emphasizes Mosig. “I could never have imagined that I would spend Easter on the sofa.” He will hardly have that much time for it: he expects to have to fill 300 to 400 bags.
Easter night with a difference
Easter without worship – unthinkable with the Badener family from Munich. This year without Easter Vigil in the church, but with a house devotion, as the Sundays before. “We prepared the table with a cross and candle and flowers,” says Steffi Badener. “This is unusual, but we have decided that we want to do it similarly for Easter.” In these times, the family has an even greater need to celebrate Easter in a religious sense. The parents are certain: Faith, praying and singing together provide support and hope. “Right now we can use a little bit of light in everyday life,” says the Catholic.
What do children need?
Do children suffer when the familiar Easter is cancelled, when they cannot see the family? “I am convinced that we should not look at children in isolation,” says Dusseldorf child psychiatrist Dirk Heimann. Children are heavily dependent on the framework that their parents give them – or an aunt or their favourite teacher. Because: “If these people are not well, then the child is not well,” Heimann explains. This means that Easter will be bad for children if they experience the parents worried.
Life-affirming must have enough space, restrictions are then not so bad. This was shown by biographical studies from wartime. “You can’t lie to children,” says Heimann. “If parents are worried about their parents, children will notice that.” The basic idea of the Easter festival is the balance between death and life – “that is a tension that is always there”. From this point of view, even in this pandemic year, you can celebrate Easter anyway.
Egg hunt must be
Every year around 40,000 children write to Easter bunny Hanni Hase in Ostereistedt, and the “Easter Bunny Team” from Deutsche Post also answers the Corona crisis. One of the wishes: that the Easter egg hunt in quarantine should not fail.
So far, the team has replied to 26,000 children. “2020 is certainly the most unusual and exciting Easter season for me,” says team leader Hans-Hermann Dunker, who has left after more than two decades. “But it is especially nice in these challenging times to pass on the hopeful signs of Easter!”