With the season of Lent coming to a close, local pastors are preparing messages of God’s love through the story of Jesus Christ’s resurrection to share with churchgoers Easter Sunday.
The Christian holiday celebrates Christ rising from the dead after being crucified and signifies the beginning of a new season focused on resurrection and new life.
Church leaders throughout DeKalb County are expecting pews to be packed as usual for the holiday and are ready to put the stories behind Easter into context for their faithful followers.
The Rev. Marty Marks of Immanuel Lutheran Church and Student Center in DeKalb said those who attend Sunday can expect to hear about how God has love for all and sacrificed his son to save humanity from sin.
“The message every year is one of good news for those in DeKalb and the whole world,” Marks said. “There’s a God that loves the world.”
Marks said he usually expects about 300 people to attend church between the two services offered Sunday morning.
“Not just Christian families – everyone is welcome because God loves everyone,” he said.
The Rev. Harlene Harden of Sycamore United Methodist Church said she would be reading from John 20, verses 1-18, in the Bible, which relays the story of Christ’s resurrection.
Harden said she would talk about the time of day that the resurrection occurred and emphasize a message that comes to light in Psalm 30:5, which reads in part: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
“When we want to do something significant, we leave early in the morning,” Harden said. “Good things happen early in the morning, like the resurrection of Jesus.”
Harden said she is expecting at least 500 people to attend church this weekend among the Saturday and Sunday services.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “I’m hoping for more than 500.”
The Rev. Blake Richter of Westminster Presbyterian Church in DeKalb said he wants people on Easter to know that although plenty of reasons exist to be pessimistic, the resurrection is a reason for hope.
“The temptation is always there for pastors to say something new,” he said. “The key is to remember the message given throughout the years: death does not conquer our hope in God.”
He said Easter Sunday Mass usually brings in about 30 percent to 40 percent more people.
“I think there should be additional excitement around the great holidays of the church,” he said.
The Rev. Jeff Knitt of Crossview EFCA Church in DeKalb said he will read from the Gospel of Luke and reflect on what the resurrection means for people today.
“Basically, we’ll be talking about what the resurrection of Jesus tells us in terms of a bigger story,” he said. “Jesus is inviting us into a bigger story.”
Knitt said he is new to his role at the church, so he is not sure how many people to expect for Easter Mass. However, he is excited to celebrate a deeply valued day for the church.
“It’s a day of hope, a day of love,” Knitt said. “I hope people experience love and find hope on Easter.”