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Easter message - the Bishop of St Davids

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Our faith doesn’t evade distress and pain and we are open-eyed to a world in turmoil. But through Christ’s resurrection we have hope, says the Bishop of St Davids, Joanna Penberthy, in her Easter message.“He is not here: He is risen.”These are the words that Christians believe describe the changing of lives, the changing of history. They are the words, written in St Luke’s Gospel, spoken by two men “in dazzling apparel” to the women who were bringing spices to bury the body of Jesus. “Why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here: He is risen.” The message of the men in dazzling clothes so convinced these women that they turned round and went back to find the Eleven and the rest of Jesus’ followers to tell them what had happened. “He is not here: He is risen.” Unsurprisingly, but disappointingly, the men “thought it an idle tale.” Peter went to check it out, saw the cloths in which Jesus’ body had been wrapped lying by themselves and “marveled.” After all, why would anyone unwrap a corpse, before stealing it or taking it away?In St John’s telling of what happened that morning, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb alone early in the morning, sees the stone rolled away from the tomb’s entrance and in distress, runs to tell Peter and a disciple who was especially close to Jesus. They go with her back to the tomb. As in Luke’s account, Peter is described as going into the tomb and seeing the linen cloths just lying there. The other unnamed disciple follows him and believes what others cannot begin to fathom.While Peter and the other disciple return to Jerusalem, Mary stays at the tomb weeping. She meets a man she assumes to be the gardener but who reveals himself to her as someone quite different when he says her name, “Mary.” She rushes back to the disciples and becomes the first evangelist, “I have seen the Lord.”In the almost two thousand years since this proclamation, so much theology has been written and preached about this event, so many lives changed, and prayers prayed. We still cannot explain it or pin it down. We come back to the testimony of the first witnesses, “I have seen the Lord” and their willingness to risk everything to follow Him and share the good news that even death could not stop the Lord Jesus.However long we study, we shall never truly grasp the meaning of the resurrection. Rather, we are called to live it. We are called to have the courage, day by day, to live as those who accept the testimony of Mary. Death has been broken. You and I shall die, as shall all those we love, but death cannot hold us because Jesus has burst its bonds, not only for himself but for all who put their trust in Him. This feast of Easter is the core, the heart of the Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus makes the cross a victory. “For I am sure, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present not things to come, nor powers, not height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” as St Paul wrote to the Christian community in Rome. We are called to live this.As Christians, we proclaim year by year, “Alleluia, He is Risen” and day by day, as we live by our faith in Jesus, we learn a little more, what resurrection means. We are those who can learn to take the risk of following Jesus, in the reality of our lives and in the reality of this beautiful and terrible world. Before He died Jesus encouraged His disciples, “Take heart: I have overcome the world.” Starting with Mary Magdalene, early on Easter morning, one by one, Jesus’ disciples learned the full truth of what that meant.This is often not easy to believe or hold onto. Whether it is difficulties that we are going through in our own lives or tragedies and atrocities on the world stage, it is often difficult to hold onto the truth of the Christian faith that “God is love.” These three days - Good Friday when we remember Jesus’ execution, Holy Saturday when we remember his dead body lying in the tomb and Easter morning when, against all hope, Mary Magdalene told the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” - these three days give us hope. Our Christian faith does not evade distress or darkness, pain or despair. At Easter, open-eyed to a world in turmoil we can proclaim, Alleluia, Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed Alleluia.By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, may the Risen Christ, meet you this Easter and fill your hearts with hope. Alleluia He is Risen. He is risen indeed Alleluia.

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