Gary Lerude

April 4, 2021


Growing up, from fourth grade through high school, I attended church with my mother most Sunday mornings, a Methodist church the first few years, American Baptist during high school. My mother was deeply religious, my father not at all, and they did not attend church. After divorcing my father, she resumed going to church and introduced me to Christianity. Those were difficult years for her as a single mom and business owner, following an unhappy marriage and contentious divorce. Church was a bedrock helping sustain her faith.

During my early teenage years, I began to doubt the miracles of Christianity, the virgin birth and resurrection, and its singular path to salvation. Despite singing in the choir, being baptized, and seeking a personal relationship with God, my questions and doubts about Christian theology grew. They grew further when I went off to college and encountered Judaism and the dilemma that my new Jewish classmates and friends, seemingly as good and ethical as anyone, were not "saved." It made no sense.

From those church years, I recall Easter being the purest religious holiday. The Easter Bunny never could catch up with Santa Claus to dilute the religious symbolism with modern secular materialism. Yet the central point of Easter — the miracle of the resurrection, Jesus dying for our sins — held no meaning for me.

In time, Unitarian Universalism became my salvation. It has provided me with a religious framework to explore my spiritual questions and develop my own answers, consistent with rational inquiry, the scientific method, and my values. Unitarian Universalism has provided a community of fellow seekers and challenged me to work for an equitable and just society, expanding my understanding and acceptance of those who are different than me.

Now, I see Easter as a celebration of the emergence from winter and a symbol of life's renewal, rebirth, and hope. This Easter is particularly poignant, after a year when a pandemic swept the globe and reminded us how fragile life is, that human society is vulnerable to something as tiny as a virus. This Easter brings us hope and the promise of renewal. The resurrection from the tomb is found in seemingly miraculous vaccines.