Bishop John’s Easter MessageSunday 4th April 2021
One thing is for certain – we will not forget 2020 in a hurry. When the first announcement of lockdown was made, in March last year, I am sure that none of us could have imagined how it would affect our lives, our work, our studies, our finances, our freedom to travel. And for all too many of us, there has been the impact of the illness itself – either for ourselves of those close to us – and the sadness of losing family members and friends.
Perhaps now, hopefully, we are seeing some glimmer of light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. But that light could shine on a rather different way of life. Do we want to get things back to “normal”? I don’t. It seems to me that the old “normal” was not working too well at all. Too many people were being left out, marginalised. Too many nations were looking out for their own prosperity, while ignoring the needs of others. There was too much conflict in our world, too many refugees, too many children dying of starvation and families deprived even of clean drinking water. There is something wrong when the richer get richer and the poor, poorer. Wouldn’t it be much better if the rich could indeed have wealth, (though there is nothing wrong with that in itself) but the poor could also have a proper share – at least enough. Our world can indeed provide enough for us all.
Easter is celebrated this year at a time when we can surely feeling something of a new hope. And that is what Easter needs to be about. That first Easter did not suddenly make sense to the disciples of Jesus. They didn’t suddenly understand everything that Jesus had tried to explain to them about his own future or what His Father’s plan had been from the start of his ministry. No. But after all the horror of seeing him betrayed, condemned and crucified, and buried in the tomb, they suddenly had the extraordinary news that he was alive, had spoken to some of his followers. How confusing but how full of hope. Even after he appeared to them and had spoken to them, it would still take time for them to begin to understand what Jesus had repeatedly explained to them during his ministry, and to begin to work out what was now required of them in their own ministry to others. We have the same learning process throughout our own lives, each one of us learning what it is to be an “ambassador for Christ” and a “missionary disciple”.
Even though we are not free of the sadness and stress of this pandemic, let us look forward in hope and be learning for ourselves how we, you and I, can make our world a better place through our actions and care for others. We start with that renewed sense of care in our families, but it also can be expressed in our parish communities where we make sure that people are never excluded or forgotten – particularly when they are elderly, or housebound. So much has been achieved in building that sense of care in community even in the lockdown and that can and must continue. By our actions we have so much to say to the wider society in which we live. Happy Easter! Let us celebrate it with a real sense of renewed hope this year.
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