Easter Messages from:
Dr Phillip Aspinall – Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop of Brisbane
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB)
The Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The Anglican Church of Canada
Dr Phillip Aspinall – Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop of Brisbane
The recent bushfires in Victoria and flooding in Queensland have shocked us with their reminder of the violence of the forces of nature and the vulnerability of life. Add to that the recent reports of torture and starvation in Zimbabwean prisons and in the last few days the devastation of the earthquake in Italy. Images of death this Easter are fresh and stark.
Australians have been most deeply affected by the Victorian fires. We watched our television screens in horror as the death toll rose. Lives were lost on a scale that none of us wants to witness again. Whole families were lost and others were ripped apart. Mums, dads, grandparents, children and babies were taken in frightening moments with no chance of escape. Buildings were lost too, which can be replaced. Not so the family memories and histories and treasures destroyed with them.
I visited regions affected and saw first hand the destruction and grief. I can only imagine the horror that gripped locals as they tried to flee their burning homes only to find roads impassable because of smoke and fallen trees. Many died in motor vehicle accidents as they tried to escape the flames. Whole communities and the nation at large were in shock.
To many it seemed inconceivable that life could go on meaningfully after the fires. People I met who had lost loved ones were numb, immobilised. There were no words adequate to meet their questions. Why had this happened? Why their loved ones? Why this house while the house next door survived?
And yet for all the darkness, shock and numbness people were also aware of another reality. Story after story emerged of neighbours helping neighbours, strangers saving strangers, gifts of basic necessities and donations of money. Emergency recovery centres, churches and community facilities were overwhelmed with donated goods. Appeals for financial assistance quickly raised millions of dollars. New communities of human comfort emerged apparently instantaneously. There was an almost palpable spirit of sacrifice, generosity, compassion and – yes – love.
2000 years ago, Jesus’ death by crucifixion was also shocking. It was inconceivable to his followers that this man, who was so loved, in whom they were beginning to sense the presence of God, could die in such a cruel and inhuman manner. It was inconceivable to them that life could go on in any meaningful manner after his senseless death.
The striking reality was that in the midst of death life was born. In darkness light shone.
Two thousand years after the first Easter we continue to celebrate the victory of life over death. The timeless meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection is that no matter how impenetrable the darkness may seem, God’s creative power is stronger. Each Easter season we are invited to travel alongside Jesus on his journey beyond death to new life and to know the reality of the outpouring of his spirit on all people, everywhere. I pray that all Australians may experience that new life and that spirit for themselves. This Easter may we see the light shining in the darkness and feel the spirit in our hearts and give thanks.
Easter Message from the co-Presiding Bishops - The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia
Archbishop Jabez Bryce, Archbishop David Moxon and Archbishop Brown Turei
Our prayers are with you across this very widespread Three-Tikanga Church, from the Islands of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, through all the communities of Aotearoa, New Zealand.
We number over 600 faith communities through these regions and all of us, together with the rest of the Body of Christ throughout the world, will be focusing on the great story and message of Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday.
The green palm branches of Palm Sunday turn into the woven green cross and become a sign of the evergreen grace and power of God, working through suffering, death and sin, overcoming them with new life.
The green crosses that are always made across this Church at this time of year are woven by people as a sign of their devotion and care. Each cross is woven as a small act of love, witnessing to that universal act of love in the crucifixion of Jesus and in His resurrection.
God’s grace and power are evergreen even when, for a time, trials and death shape our lives. God will always weave the green strands into the pattern of a new creation.
We keep this green palm cross through the year as a sign that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the centre of our lives and His death-defying love is always available to us. This is the way in which a new creation is woven; this is the heart of our mission and our message.
May we learn to link our pain, sorrows and disappointments with Christ’s victorious death, and our successes and joys with his resurrection.
“Oh God through His cross and passion, your Son brought us your redeeming love, grant us all the gifts and fruits of His Spirit.”
May God bless you at the very centre of your being this Eastertide.
Easter 2009 Message from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -The Episcopal Church
“Easter recollects us and reorients us toward God’s eternal light of truth and peace and love,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says in her Easter Message.
The light returns and the days lengthen, even if it remains startlingly dark as we rise these days – daylight savings time is not always a blessing so early in the year! Christians, however, look for light even in the midst of darkness, for we know that darkness will not overcome it. The rising of the Son brings light into lives filled with grief, agony, and despair. Are you searching for the light of new life?
Easter recollects us and reorients us toward God’s eternal light of truth and peace and love. The resurrection is the ultimate proclamation that nothing can separate us from that light, not despair or destruction or death. We see hints of that resurrection all around us once our eyes have learned to look, and we continue to hope for its fullness, for the blessing of a light so encompassing that there can be no darkness or separation. Lent has been a willingness to experience the darkness of our current separation and tune our yearning for that light. Carry that yearning into Eastertide, and beyond, that we and the world around us may know the blessing of the light of Christ.
Pastoral Letter from the House of Bishops to the people of God - The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB) Easter of the Lord, 2009
“Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. … They stood still, looking sad.”
(Gospel of Saint Luke 24:13-17)
As someone once said, one day, we too will find ourselves on the road to Emmaus. We have often sung: “In the hour of trial, Jesus... the night will soon fall, night in Emmaus...” . In fact, the “stranger” was recognized but his presence quickly vanished from the sight of the disciples. The gathering, the conversation, and the revelation were blessed, unexpected, touching, and truthful.
One might say that many times over the past few years in our experience as members of the IEAB, as citizens of our country, and not least in remembrance of our own personal and family life… we have been “looking sad.”
As Brazilians we suffer from widespread and almost always unpunished corruption. “Misery exists only because there is corruption” sings [rap singer] “Gabriel o Pensador”. We agonize under the contradictory conditions of a social reality that could be much better, fairer, healthier, and more promising. Millions of Brazilian families suffer the class apartheid that we know all too well. Our youth yearns for opportunities that, unfairly, they may never get. The political reality is increasingly disappointing. In the past few decades, more-than- reproachable professional politicians are not only re-elected but impair the health of a democratic process that we as citizens could harness. Health and education, both of which are required for people’s full dignity, have been giving up space to sleek advertising and official imposture. As Saint Luke says, we are “looking sad.”
In the life of the IEAB and its dioceses and parishes, we have also been perplexed by missteps in our way of being and acting. These adversities are found in other church traditions as well. The scarcity of resources does not seem to be the primary cause of a dramatic problem but it makes it much more difficult to overcome obstacles. In any event, “looking sad”... we find ourselves on the road to Emmaus. In our meeting of the House of Bishops, we heard sorrowful reports but at the same time were heartened by the sharing of much Good News that the Father has bestowed on many dioceses. The people of God of the IEAB have matured in their faith, but they have been through sad times and life-changing events. The Bishops thank God for the voice and wisdom of the laypersons who spoke at the meeting of the House. The road to Emmaus therefore shines, in this time of Resurrection, as the force of life transformation that we so need. Sadness does not need masks, which may be why it knocks us down and reinforces us so, not by our own courage but by the blessed presence of the Risen Lord at our side.
Adversities and suffering are schools that teach us to see and understand things that before we could not fathom. Through the crises, we pray for more mature discernment in the experience of faith. On the way of the cross, captivated by the Crucified One, we are sustained by the communion and by the hope revealed to us as people of God, in view of Christ among us. But the ancient faith inherited from our forefathers must also witness the contemporary situations of indifference, injustice, despair, impoverishment, and a yearning for much more life. The Easter season reminds us that we are not orphans. We are not alone. The Church is not us, but God with us! The real meaning of faith in the Resurrection for us is a full understanding that changes must or could occur. It is through the light of the presence of the Risen One among us that we feel capable of changing and transforming. Rejection and death do not have the last word. The Risen Lord is the source of abundant, courageous, and healing life. It is through the light of the Easter of the Lord that we see our structures more clearly as a church of God. We love many of them. We recognize that they need healing and remodelling. We love the church even more but we do not confuse it with structures that should stay in their own time. Many of these forms no longer speak to our generation and to the way our people live. This is when adoration reappears as the most central fact of life and faith. Without adoration first, not even mission is justified.
We must urgently let go of much of the noise inside us, in fear of silence. Quietly listing to the Father’s wisdom and beginning a life of personal piety, without losing emphasis on liturgy and pastoral practice, we envision, as in Emmaus, the semblance of the Risen One to encourage us. The entire IEAB, beginning with its bishops, all the clergy “and the congregations confided to their care,” in this time of commemoration of the Resurrection face a serious call to seize the opportunity for metanoia, a radically new life of witness in mission. The mystery of the Resurrection of Jesus, which transformed so many generations before us, is now before us, patiently revealing new paths and opportunities. Easter calls us to experience the holy fermentation of renewed life. By participating in holy mysteries of the Bread and the Wine, we receive the gift of forgiveness and making amends. Meeting in Porto Alegre from 30 March to 3 April, the bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB), in expectation of the week of the Lord’s Passion, prayed and interceded for our revival as a paschal people that overcomes death, announces hope, and seeds encouragement, and for our personal and ecclesial rediscovery of that which Christ teaches and reveals to us in Emmaus.
“If with sore affliction thou in love chastise; Pour thy benediction on the sacrifice: then upon thine altar freely offered up, though the faith may falter, faith shall drink the cup.” (Hymn 258)
Note: The House of Bishops, meeting in Porto Alegre from 31 March to 3 April, unanimously decided to postpone the Synod and the National Conference of Church Leaders of the IEAB due to the 2010 commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the IEAB (and remembrance of the 200 years of the British Chaplaincy in Brazil). This transfer will not only allow us to better prepare for the events and the celebrations, but it will also give us more time to continue our work of collecting and analyzing information. It is also possible that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams may be with us on such a special occasion, side by side with other invitees and visitors we are expecting.
Porto Alegre, 03 de abril de 2009
Dom Maurício Andrade, Primaz e Brasília
Dom Almir dos Santos, Oeste
Dom Jubal Pereira Neves, Santa Maria-RS
Dom Orlando Santos de Oliveira, Porto Alegre, RS
Dom Naudal Alves Gomes, Curitiba, PR
Dom Sebastião Armando Gameleira Soares, Recife, PE
Dom Filadelfo de Oliveira Neto, Recife, PE
Dom Saulo Maurício de Barros, Belém, PA
Dom Renato da Cruz Raatz, Pelotas, RS
Dom Roger Bird- São Paulo, SP
Dom Clovis Erly Rodrigues, Emérito
Dom Luiz Osório Pires Prado, Emérito
Dom Glauco Soares de Lima, Emérito
The Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd Alan Harper, in his Easter Message this year speaks of the solidarity shown after the events in Northern Ireland of recent weeks and how we must walk by faith and not by sight, keeping our nerve to build a respectful peace and a shared future.
2009 Easter Message
One of the glories of Easter, with the news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the realization that having laid to rest the old body, a new body – unconstrained by the limitations of the past, recognizable as the one who once was yet filled with a new energy – has sprung into being. When rooted in but not captive to the past, exciting new possibilities abound.
When the people of Ireland, North and South, their political leaders and the representatives of all the churches, spoke with a single voice after the killings in Antrim and Craigavon they were speaking the language of the resurrection: recognizing the past but witnessing that we have moved on. The new place, the new peace is life giving and life affirming and it is where we want to be. Not that all that is good from the past is abandoned. Rather, like collectors of ancient treasures, we cherish those things that are the useful and beautiful outcomes of previous eras but do not try to live in that era.
We must live as children of the resurrection as much in secular as in sacred things. When the first disciples heard that the Lord had risen, some believed but others doubted. As word spread and the presence of the risen Christ became an experienced reality, doubt turned to acclamation. The Spirit was given and the Church began fully to inhabit that new, Paschal, reality. Even then, some expected to see the consummation of all things quickly and it became difficult to sustain 'white hot' levels of initial expectation. Similarly, the early phases of peace building, after an initial burst of energy and with occasional set backs, are the hardest to sustain. As the first witnesses to the resurrection did, we also must walk by faith and not by sight, keeping our nerve, resolved to build a respectful peace and a shared future that is truly of God.
Joint Anglican-Lutheran Easter video message – The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
The leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) mark their churches’ full communion relationship by issuing a joint video message for Easter. In this two-minute video, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the ACC, and Bishop Susan Johnson, national bishop of the ELCIC speak about the importance of Holy Week, particularly during this time of economic strain.
Watch and download this video: http://www.anglican.ca/primate/easter/index.htm