From The Most Revd Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales.
The Resurrection is, if you like, God's 'Yes' to Jesus' way of life. Had God raised either Herod or Pilate, it would have been ratification of human monstrosity. The fact that He raised Jesus ratified, and ratifies, the values of Jesus, the values of forgiveness and mercy, of compassion of joy and service. Jesus' acceptance and graciousness in inviting outcasts to share table with Him is echoed in His parables and sayings – the Prodigal is feasted on his return, the Lost Sheep is borne off in the arms of the Shepherd and all manner of people are forgiven. No matter how far people had fallen into darkness, Jesus invited them to fellowship. No-one, no matter how badly they have behaved is beyond the reaches of His love. Jesus is the guarantee that love is stronger than death and that the God who made the world has not abandoned it, but taken on its pain and shame and broken through to a new creation.
If we are in Christ Jesus, baptised into Him and raised to new life in Him, then the implications of that are that we too should live out those values of love, forgiveness and compassion in our relationships with one another.
We, who are in Christ, are agents of His kingdom, not just its beneficiaries. So we have to be concerned about, and do something about issues of hunger, war, violence and deprivation – things that mar God's image and disfigure His world. For how else can we witness to the fact that Jesus is alive and that His values are the only ones in the end that count. We can only do so by displaying them in our own lives and by so committing ourselves to His cause, enable His kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven.
From The Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
One of my favorite Easter hymns is about greenness. "Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain."
It goes on to talk about love coming again. It's a reminder to me of how centered our Easter images are in the Northern hemisphere. We talk about greenness and new life and life springing forth from the earth when we talk about resurrection. I often wonder what Easter images come in the Southern hemisphere, and I think that church in the south has something to teach us about that.
I was in Japan a month or so ago, and visiting the area of Japan that was so affected by the tsunami and the aftermath of the earthquake. The earth there is - was at that point - largely colorless, brown, in the middle of winter. No greenness. But at the same time the work of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Japanese church in that part of Japan, has brought a great deal of new life, life abundant for people who have been devastated and displaced, who are still mourning their loss of loved ones, the loss of their homes and employment.
New life comes in many forms, even in seasons that seem fairly wintry.
As we began Lent, I asked you to think about the Millennium Development Goals and our work in Lent as a re-focusing of our lives. I'm delighted to be able to tell you that the UN report this last year has shown some significant accomplishment in a couple of those goals, particularly in terms of lowering the rates of the worst poverty, and in achieving better access to drinking water and better access to primary education. We actually might reach those goals by 2015. That leaves a number of other goals as well as what moves beyond the goals to full access for all people to abundant life.
In this Easter season I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate are springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities. There is indeed greenness, whatever the season. Give thanks for Easter. Give thanks for Resurrection. Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst.
From The Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The origins of 'holidays' in 'holy days' means that for hundreds of thousands of people, this Easter weekend has become an opportunity for a break, often involving taking to the roads or skies. For many of those who do not associate Easter with a holy day, I suspect it has become an annual flight or escape from everyday life. For Christian believers, however, whether spent at home or elsewhere, Easter is the great flight to reality – the reality that Christ is risen and that those who are in Christ have risen with Him. It is the pivotal holy day of the year.
Easter is precious and foundational not just as the remembrance of a past event, but also as the celebration of our death and subsequent rebirth through the waters of baptism. The everyday reality of the life that we live in Christ is a transformed and transcendent life – not a life insulated from drudgery, pain and mortality but a life lived beyond the captivity of our fears and frailty. We celebrate Easter as the Feast of the Restoration of Mankind, the event horizon through which we pass enabling us to lay hold of a true humanity, for the divine took on and then surrendered the wholeness of humanity to show us and help us to become who and what we already truly are.
Today, as we have become increasingly aware, the convictions of Christians are publicly challenged and this may be especially so at Easter. Nevertheless, indeed more so than ever, let the declaration ring out: 'Christ is Risen, and those who are in Christ have risen with him!'
From The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda
"Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on the Cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Phil 2:8-11.
Hardly three months have gone by since we celebrated Christmas. This was a great reminder of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.
During Easter we focus on the climax of God's divine love, Jesus demonstrated to humanity. In a world suffering from lack of love during his earthly life, though he did no wrong, he faced the cruelty of human selfish hearts. He was arrested by the Religious Establishment and tortured to the point of exhaustion. The Romans finally sentenced him to death. He was crucified between two (2) criminals. In his pain and agony he cried to God to forgive his tormentors. His company on that Cross represented the fallen class of humanity, the humble, the poor, the helpless and homeless.
What do we experience today?
MAY THE PEACE OF THE RISEN LORD FILL YOUR LIVES.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA
From the Most Revd Jeffrey Driver, Archbishop of Adelaide
The story of the Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great story of renewal and new life coming from sacrifice. It is a story for everyone. Especially at this time it is a story for our political and religious leaders.
At the trial of Jesus there is a political leader willing to engage in word games and to wash his hands of responsibility in order to please his masters.
At the trial of Jesus there are religious leaders willing to sacrifice an individual in order to protect their institution and its privileges.
At the heart of the story there is Jesus. He is a servant leader, open and vulnerable, unable to deny his own integrity. Willing to suffer; willing to give himself completely.
In the Good Friday and Easter story there is a challenge to all our political and religious institutions.
Recent unsavoury battles over leadership in Canberra have done little to bolster trust in our political institutions. And trust in the church has been shaken by revelations of abuse by church leaders.
In the story of Jesus we see that renewal begins with openness, vulnerability, and a willingness to sacrifice institutional privilege in order to give and serve without heed for self.
It is the message the Church proclaims at this Easter time. But it is also the message the Church needs to hear again and again, if it is to renew its influence in the modern world.
And in an age of "spin" and political self-preservation, perhaps our political leaders also need to take some inspiration from the selfless, servant leadership of Jesus.
Self sacrifice and giving can still change the world.
From The Rt Revd Dr S Tilewa Johnson Bishop of Gambia
My dear Sisters and Brothers in the Risen Christ,
Today we celebrate a major festival in the Christian Church – the Feast of the Resurrection – Easter Day.
Today we celebrate the time when God showed His immense love for us – His love for humankind and for the world. In the form of a man – Jesus – God lived among us. Jesus came to point the way to God (whom he called "Father"). Jesus' popularity and passion for truth and justice put him at odds with the authorities of the day – particularly some of the religious leaders. He was unjustly put to death. However, on the third day he rose again. Through all this, we have the chance to be forgiven and, receive abundant and eternal life. Our relationship with God, which was spoilt at the Fall of humankind, has been repaired. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we can again come into the presence of God.
This great gift from God to His people is a high point in our relationship with God. A major message we receive at this Easter time is HOPE. However dark life may seem, we can believe there is always hope. Throughout the scriptures we can read of God's saving purpose for His people, which culminates in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God is always ready to provide for our needs. We need to be ready to receive the good gifts He offers.
When we look at our world it is sometimes possible to wonder where there is any hope. We see natural disasters. We see war. We see poverty. We see hunger. Some of the disasters we witness are of natural causes – such as earthquakes. However, many Disasters are human-made. War and conflict arise from a human greed in the quest for power and material wealth. The poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters is the result of the greed of a few. Whilst a small minority can live with an amoral level of wealth, literally millions of people survive with inadequate access to food, shelter, sanitation, health care and education. People die of poverty. There must be something wrong in our world when the welfare gap is so vast. There must be something wrong when people cannot afford adequate and nutritious food to eat. Such injustice cannot be the will of God. Our holy scriptures have something to say to us on this.
After their liberation from Egypt, the children of God spent some time in the wilderness before reaching the land of Canaan. They needed food. So,
"The Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people shall go out and gather a day's supply,
so that I can put them to the test
and see whether they will follow my instructions or not'."
(Exodus 16: 4)
The 'instructions' spoken of can speak to us even today. Each person was to gather only as much food as they could eat for that day – in faith that sufficient would be provided on subsequent days. Those who disobeyed found that any surplus just rotted and was inedible. Are we good at only taking sufficient to satisfy our need? Or is there a danger of wanting to satisfy our greed as well?
It is a wonderful picture – that God is going to "rain down bread from heaven". We see it as the fulfilment of a promise of God. God's promise to feed His people. A food that costs nothing. The New Testament equivalent could be seen as the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus states that these people should be fed – no argument! When his disciples say it would cost a year's wages to feed such a crowd, Jesus says, "Well you feed them then." Money should not be an obstacle to having food!
A people totally dependent on God – such as those we hear of here in the wilderness – those who are not dependant on a money economy - are fed by God. Every person, regardless of rank, is fed to their satisfaction. Our human-made economic systems have vastly distorted such a pure and just system. In today's world, food can be available, but people do not have access to it due to its price. In today's world, wealthier and more powerful countries can dictate international trade and economic systems, which work against poorer countries. However, we do have to live in the world in which we find ourselves. In accepting this, we should also understand that we can be active participants in shaping our future. We can strive to do something about the injustice of poverty, the gross inequality of access to adequate and decent food, and so on.
We can work together to produce affordable food. We can work together to establish a just marketing system. We can discuss with our wealthier partners in development to create a more just international economic system.
Poverty and hunger, with unnecessary sickness and death, are a part of our present day "Good Friday" – a time of darkness and hopelessness. A large part of the problem is human made. So there should be a human solution. The situation is not without hope, and development efforts in poorer countries are a sign of this. This is the hopefulness of Easter Day. There can be a brighter future. In order to make such a future a reality, we are called to be co-workers with God to bring in the justice of God's Kingdom here on earth.
There is indeed a new world in the making, all we need to do is to cooperate with our Triune God of renewal and transformation.
It is my prayer – today, on the Feast of the Resurrection – that we may all be able to see hope in our lives.
On behalf of all Anglicans in The Gambia, Senegal and Cape Verde, we wish you the peace and joy of Easter - today and always.
Your friend and Bishop