The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to choose a “better future for all” as we emerge from the pandemic.
Justin Welby encouraged people to ensure acts of love, charity, and international aid are maintained.
The Easter service at Canterbury Cathedral took place with no congregation due to coronavirus rules.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have paid tribute to the work of the Church through the pandemic.
The Easter service is featuring across BBC TV, radio, and digital platforms for the first time.
The Most Reverend Welby said: “The last year is yet another cruel period of history taking from us those who we loved, ending lives cruelly and tragically… we have certain hope and a changed future, we will be reunited with those who we loved.”
He went on: “In this country, in this world, we have a choice over the next few years. We can go on as before Covid, where the most powerful and the richest gain and so many fall behind. We have seen where that left us.
“Or we can go with the flooding life and purpose of the resurrection of Jesus, which changes all things, and choose a better future for all.”
He also said that “the overwhelming generosity of God to us should inspire the same by us, in everything from private acts of love and charity to international aid generously maintained”.
“We have received overwhelmingly, so let us give generously,” he said.
For some churches, Sunday is the first time they have opened in months.
Social distancing measures and other limits have been in place during the pandemic.
Communal worship was banned in Scotland during the latest lockdown and although it was permitted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, many chose to shut their doors.
Mr Johnson said the past year had been “very tough”, but that Easter “brings with it new hope”.
“And, this year more than ever, it brings the promise of brighter days ahead for us all,” he added.
The PM said Christians had showed “what loving thy neighbour as thyself really looks like in 21st Century Britain”.
“Having done all that during the darkest days of the pandemic, churches across the UK are now helping us light the path out of it by opening their doors as vaccination centres. It’s really very moving to see it,” he added.
Sir Keir also honoured the Christian community for its support during the past 12 months.
The Labour leader said it had “always been there for the marginalised and for those that need support and help, but over the last year that has shone through so strong and so visible for everybody to see”.
“I know Easter is a special time for Christians. It’s a time for hope and renewal. And, as we come out of this pandemic, I think those values will be so important to us as a nation.”
As part of events on Sunday, Prince Charles read Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, God’s Grandeur, in a special Easter message.
The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has described the “corrosion and destruction” of the pandemic but also said that the resurrection of Christ offered “a new way of looking on all life” during his Easter Sunday service.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has led his Easter mass in front of a small congregation of around 200 people while thousands of others around the world attended virtually.