Easter is much more than a recurring religious message: It is the reminder that death does not get the last word. It makes people rethink life in times of uncertainty, DW's Christoph Strack writes.
How easy it is to just say "Happy Easter." The greeting is offered kindly, but it hides the drama of this holiday. Easter is the celebration of life and the demonstration of life's strength, even in the face of death; it is the great theater of the world, with loneliness, despair, salvation and hope portrayed. And there are challenges for religious and nonreligious people alike.
As Holy Week 2016 draws to an end, those challenges encompass a new, perhaps even more serious dimension. In Brussels, terrorists killed more than 30 people last Tuesday. Hundreds were injured; thousands are mourning their lost friends and relatives, and thousands are waiting anxiously for news about the survivors. And many have lost hope - in Istanbul, Paris and Brussels, as well as many other places in the world.
Good Friday represents God's remoteness. The cries of Jesus on the cross are the cries of despair. And always, especially after historical horrors such as the mass exterminations at Auschwitz, many people are incapable of belief or unwilling to believe. But Good Friday belongs to the living.
Death is not the end
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, was recently asked about hope in the face of terror and war, the plight of refugees, and growing radicalization.
"Easter means one should not suffer silently," the bishop said. "This holiday reflects on abysmal and deep suffering. On Good Friday we commemorate the death of Jesus. On the cross, he called, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.' God suffers as his son Jesus does. This brings him closer to humans - especially to those who have had experiences like the victims of the Brussels attacks and their families." God's closeness to humans is evident in the work of liberation theologians. Their words are echoed by Pope Francis (pictured at top) in his appeals for compassion.
God is powerless, and religion is powerless. Anyone who appropriates religion for the purpose of wielding power over the lives of people, wielding the power to kill, is wrong. The legacy of the 20th century is that life is sacred. We should never forget that in debates about refugees and social interactions with them - or when we fear terror or when we show our courage in the face of terror.
With all this in mind, Easter is precisely the reminder that destruction and death are not the end, and that faith in life triumphs. The essence of this message is also part of the Judeo-Christian ethos of Europe.
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