Scotland’s First Minister said she is “deeply moved by the work of Christians” who will not be able to “come together in the usual way to celebrate Christ’s resurrection” this Easter.
Issuing her Easter message, Nicola Sturgeon praised the role of Christian values during the coronavirus crisis and the sacrifices made by faith communities.
The most important day in the Christian calendar will be celebrated in churches on Sunday after the pandemic closed places of worship in March 2020.
Following the winter lockdown, the Scottish Government’s route map back to normality allowed churches to reopen from March 26, though a legal challenge to restrictions by church leaders led to them reopening two days earlier.
In a message to those celebrating the holy day, Sturgeon said restrictions on capacity in churches “mean this Easter still won’t be completely normal for Christians across our country”.
“Many will still take part in religious services virtually, but won’t be able to come together in the usual way to celebrate Christ’s resurrection,” she said.
She added that Easter is a time for celebration, but also “a time for reflection and prayer”.
“In these times of crisis, the central Christian values of kindness, compassion and love are more important than ever,” she said.
“And looking back on the last year, I have been deeply moved by the work of Christians in Scotland, who have come together to help those in most need during these difficult times.”
Reflecting on the “joy and hope of the Easter message”, she wished Christians celebrating in churches and at home a “happy, healthy and peaceful Easter”.
In his Easter message, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said: “This is a time for coming together.
“The last year has been incredibly tough on all of us but our collective community spirit and kindness has kept shining through.
“Whatever your faith, I wish you a happy and peaceful Easter.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said there is a “sense of hope and optimism” as we “begin to come through” the coronavirus crisis.
He added: “And for that I want to say thank you to all our amazing frontline workers who have continued to go above and beyond.
“And I hope we can capture that spirit of hope and optimism, to pull our country together, to focus on national recovery and come through this crisis as a stronger and fairer nation.
“So, I hope you have a great Easter weekend – happy Easter.”
The Scottish Greens’ Ross Greer MSP said the party “send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Easter today”.
He added: “The restrictions on coming together to worship in person were necessary but have been a source of great pain for many of us in recent months.
“I am immensely grateful that, thanks to the sacrifices and efforts of so many people, I will be able to join my own congregation in person today as we open our doors for the first time this year to celebrate Easter Sunday.”
He added that faith communities have protected “many of our most vulnerable from the terrible effects of loneliness” and said he hopes the “renewed community spirit of the last year will stay with us as we journey together into a post-pandemic world”.