WATCH: Joy as churches back to traditional Easter worship

The Chronicle

Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
THERE is joy this Easter as churches are returning to indoor services in a revival of the traditional way of worship last experienced in 2019.

In 2020 and 2021 religious groups were forced to conduct services remotely or with a few people attending physically to protect members from Covid-19.

The virus has so far claimed the lives of more than 5 400 people in Zimbabwe and some outbreaks were traced to church gatherings.

This forced Government to put in place measures that saw religious organisations retreating to virtual services in 2020.
Last year, Easter services were attended by a minimum of 50 people in compliance with Covid-19 regulations. Now with relaxed rules, churches are returning to their sanctuaries on a full scale.

This year’s Easter is characterised by widespread excitement as the Government relaxed Covid 19 regulations and churches are preparing to have their usual mass celebrations.

In an interview, the head of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo, Archbishop Alex Thomas said the church was happy with this year’s Easter celebrations that will be close to what they are used to.

“For the church, this year’s Easter is significant because congregates are happy to be going back to our usual way of celebrating Easter.

This week is the Holy week from Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter set aside to remember the entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem.

The Thursday of that week is termed the Holy Thursday, which is used to remember the occasion when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples,” said the archbishop.

“Friday is termed the Good Friday as it marks the passion and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Saturday evening is celebrated to remember Jesus Christ’s resurrection and Easter Sunday marks the final resurrection of Christ.”

He said despite the relaxation of regulations, the church will continue observing Covid-19 prevention measures during the celebrations.

“We are going to continue following the Covid-19 regulations such as sanitising and properly wearing masks during these celebrations.

Our communities will determine the number of people converging in a particular place but we are doing our best to keep the numbers reasonable,” he said.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) leader for the Western Diocese, Bishop Michael Dube said preparations were going well and they were anticipating spending the holidays with their loved ones who have not been able to visit the country over the past two years.

“Preparations for the celebrations are at an advanced stage and different parishes will be doing different things but the focus is the same.

Easter is a re-enactment of what happened long ago. It’s a commemoration and a memorial of what Jesus Christ went through to save us.

“Last year people longed for these gatherings. Our relatives and children from outside the country will be able to join in the celebrations,” he said.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches president Bishop Lazarus Khanye said it was critical for churches to continue adhering to Covid-19 prevention measures.

“Easter is a tradition within the church, and if we stop doing such things people will cease to feel the Christianity that they initially signed up for.

This year’s Easter is going to act as a revival for most of our loved ones who had stopped going to church and lost track of what they ought to be doing,” he said.

“All churches are geared and although the pandemic is still amongst us, we are grateful that the Government relaxed the regulations.

The celebrations are coming as a relief to many as the pandemic had taken away the hope of gatherings for celebrations like this one.

We have also advised churches against big gatherings such as what we used to do in places like the White City stadium and as provinces.

We do not want a scenario where the number of cases go up after these gatherings,” said Bishop Khanye. He also urged members of the public to continue observing Covid-19 regulations.

“We advise people to bear in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic is amongst us and we should continue following the rules and regulations that were put in place by the Government,” he said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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