Bishop David’s Easter Message 2014
On 17 March there was an unprecedented announcement from the Vatican and the Anglican Centre in Rome. For the first time ever, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and the Sunni Muslim Community (represented by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Cairo) have joined efforts in a project of "practical and spiritual action” to combat the modern slavery of human trafficking. Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, when they first met last June, shared a vision to build a world-wide movement to eradicate this injustice which enslaves and affects over 27 million people who are forced into labour, sexual exploitation and even into being sources of human organs. The initiative is called the Global Freedom Network.
The Passion of our Lord which we read in Holy Week presents a world filled with so many forms of slavery. There is the slavery of money – thirty pieces of silver were able to corrupt and "buy" Judas' treachery. The slavery of injustice is seen in the weakness of Pontius Pilate, who knew Jesus was innocent but chose not to defend him. The slavery of brutal and gratuitous violence is seen in the scourging and torture of Christ at the hands of the soldiers. And then there is the slavery of hopelessness seen in the utter despair of the disciples at the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
Easter celebrates God's action to deliver us out of slavery to freedom, freedom from sin and all that holds us back from being the people that God created us to be. On the night of the Great Vigil of Easter worshippers gather in darkness, the hopeless darkness that descended upon the world on the first Good Friday. The Paschal candle is lit from a new fire and the light of Christ is spread from person to person, eventually filling the church with joyful brightness, and we proclaim "Christ is Risen!" The ancient song of Easter Eve, the Exultet resounds, “This is the night when Jesus Christ vanquished hell, broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. This is the night when all who believe in him are freed from sin, restored to grace and holiness and share the victory of Christ”.
Our Resurrection faith declares that all the darkness around us, and even the darkness of sin within us, has been overcome by the Risen Christ. Thus our Resurrection witness is about working for all that sets people free from every kind of slavery. The Global Freedom Network is but one such effort. As Easter people it is our calling to proclaim forgiveness from sin. As Easter people we offer love, compassion and justice where hatred, pain and injustice persist. As Easter people we stand for the dignity and worth of every human being. This is a powerful message of Good News which the world needs and to which we can witness boldly, as we know that we ourselves are born again to new life in the Risen Christ.
May the deep joy which comes from the liberation of Easter fill our lives and enliven our communities, for
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
The Suffragan Bishop
The Right Reverend David Hamid