This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on April 5, 2023.
This is the week when church members eagerly invite family, friends and neighbors who rarely, if ever, attend church to attend Easter services. What may seem like an invitation to hope could be perceived as something else, though.
Many non-churchgoers carry wounds that may be easily resurrected on Easter Sunday.
Some may come to Easter services seeking a nostalgic connection to their childhood. Others may not even have a Christian background but enjoy singing happy songs with a group of people on a day of celebration.
Some families may attend because their kids enjoy seeing their friends from school. Others may be neighbors of church members or church staff members who respond to a friendly invitation. Others may come out of family duty, as part of a lunch invitation or because they think it’s the right thing to do culturally.
Easter is, among other things, a cultural phenomenon. And there are benefits to participating in something bigger and far more ancient than yourself.
That’s why most infrequent attenders will come to church this Sunday, have a nice time and then move on until Christmas without being bothered again.
But for some progressive Christians and ex-evangelicals, an invitation to attend an Easter service might feel like receiving a request to open themselves to the largest celebration of the very theology and power dynamics that harmed them.
I am one of those. And despite what is assumed about us, we might not be lost and desperate. We might actually be free since leaving the church and beginning the process of healing from our many church-related wounds.