Bishop John's Easter message to parishes 2024

First published on: 20th March 2024

He is risen. He is risen, Indeed. This is how Christians in the early church greeted one another as they came together for worship on Sunday mornings. For them every Sunday was Easter. The church accepted the Resurrection as the foundation of its faith. Every worship is an occasion to proclaim that the Risen Lord is present in our midst.

The experience of Resurrection was much different from the crucifixion. Crucifixion was a public event. It was witnessed by both believers and non-believers alike. Even the sceptics were able to ‘see’ it. But the Resurrection was known and experienced only by the believers.  Thus Resurrection belongs to an altogether different category. God’s ultimate victory over death can only be discerned by faith.

To argue that all reality should be scientifically proven is to ignore much of our day-to-day experiences which are meaningful, true and important to us. We know that the precious experiences of life and emotions such as love do not always lend themselves to such ‘scientific’ verification. The Resurrection is an experience of truth that can be known only by faith. Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible!

Resurrection is the victory of the Cross. For the religious and political leaders of Jesus' time, Jesus’ tomb was a symbol of the defeat of Jesus’ movement. It was victory for the religious and political powers of oppression. But the final victory was not theirs! He is risen. Jesus’ Resurrection is a symbol of victory over injustice and oppression by both political and religious authorities. The Resurrection assures us today that the powers of death and oppression can not claim supremacy in this world of God.

Resurrection brings power and authority. Jesus shared this authority and power with his whole church. This is not the oppressive authority like what was operative in Jesus’ crucifixion, but a liberating authority which transforms dehumanised people into human beings. It is the power to fight and overcome the evil. The disciples, who had locked the doors of their house for the fear of the Jews (Jn. 20:19), have now become courageous enough to stand outside in the public and declare their faith (Acts 2:14 ff.). God’s message to us in the Resurrection is ‘do not be afraid’.

For believers in Christ, Resurrection is not exclusively an experience after death. It happens every day. In love we experience many deaths and many resurrections.  To Paul the Apostle, the proof of Resurrection is in the quality of the change that it brings about

in our relationships. With the Resurrection, Christ brings a new humanity, a new creation. Paul is very specific in Col. 3:1 : “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set  your

hearts on things above”. What are these ‘things above’? Look at verse 13: “As God’s chosen people clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. “Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances may you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”.

All these are about daily relationships in the family, community and in the wider society. It is in the daily transactions that we need to experience the ultimate victory of Christ over us and over the world. The summary of all the virtues is again given by Paul: “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”. Is this our experience? Looking at the life of our congregation can someone say truly, “Christ is Risen”?

The Resurrection happens every day. In love we can experience many deaths and many resurrections.

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