Easter message: Anglican Bishop of Bermuda
In one of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus's life and ministry, the Apostle John writes of the experience of those first disciples on the day that we now call Easter Day.
He says: “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house were locked for fear … Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you'.”
After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you!”
Our experience this Easter will be unlike any other that we have ever experienced. Our community is on lockdown and there are reports of some among us who are suffering the effects of the Covid-19 virus; some who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
This is on top of the normal health and other struggles people face.
Our churches remain closed; many will not be able to provide or afford a special Easter meal and the normal patterns of kite-flying parties and other social gatherings have been lost to us for this season.
But we should take this moment to remember that what we have enjoyed and taken for granted was not the experience of our forebears, nor is it the experience of many around the world, for whom being a Christian comes with a health warning of persecution and trouble, especially at Easter.
Moreover, there are many in our world and in our community for whom being shut in is not a momentary thing but a daily, lived experience.
To those early disciples and to those facing persecution for their faith around the world, Easter is still the most wonderful reminder of the love and presence of God — behind locked doors — in our very hearts.
Jesus, our Saviour, died, yes, but he was raised from the dead — a fact of history — and is present and powerful to help, to heal, to comfort and to give hope.
We are reminded in the familiar passages of Scripture of these things. He came and stood in their midst and spoke the same words He had said to them when they were anticipating his death just a few days before: “Peace be with you. Set your troubled hearts at rest.”
I don't know what your heart is doing at this time. Is it filled with fear and anxiety? If so, hear Jesus's words to you. But he also said to his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Each of us has a purpose in these days, the purpose of being “sent” to those around us — reaching out to neighbours, friends, even our own family under the same roof. Being together in our various confined spaces may not always be easy or, indeed, feel safe, so hear Jesus's word to you and also look out for how you can bring hope, healing and love to those closest to you.
We are a very resilient people, but we are also weak and vulnerable. It is good to acknowledge both and to seek help where needed.
May you find peace, hope and love during this Eastertide. Know that if it is needed, there is forgiveness and the possibility of starting again with God and one another — such is the effect of the Cross.
May the prospect of resurrection give you hope to look forward to a new day when we can rise up and go out and greet each other in the flesh. But until that day, my wife, family and I wish you all a truly blessed and peaceful Easter.