- Monday, April 21, 2014
An Easter letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to partners and heads of other churches around the world.
Looking at the world during these times of growing conflict and the challenges of a changing context, we are acutely aware of a sense of helplessness. In South Sudan outbreaks of violence are displacing thousands of people. UNICEF noted recently that the emergency in the world’s newest nation, where nearly 900,000 people have already been forced from their homes, risks becoming overwhelming. Natural disasters as well as the risks in day-to-day survival in Asia’s megacities are hitting the poorest children hardest. A new report published by the International Institute for Environment & Development and the children’s charity Plan International reveals that street and slum children are the most vulnerable to environmental hazards, climate change and natural disasters.
We are aware of the continuing traumatic experiences of Christians and other suffering people, particularly in the Middle East. Religious freedom is being curbed in many parts of the world and human rights trampled upon. And the Ukraine is likely to remain an area of tension for some time to come.
Against all this, as Christians we take courage from the victory won in the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The letter to the Ephesians reminds us that although the world is divided and unjust, God has not abandoned it, nor ever will. God has given Christ all dominion, power and authority and has through Christ raised and made us his co-workers. Christ represents the fullness of the church and he is our peace. Through him dividing walls of hostility between people are broken down. Through him there is a new humanity, a new reality. With him we will be knitted together into one body. Principalities and powers of this world will be called to reason and obedience to God, not in a struggle for power but for truth.
Some of us live in a relatively safe place and a comfortable context, but all of us are duty bound as Christians to pray for our sisters and brothers, who are living in exposed and threatening conditions on a daily basis. They need the assurance that they are not alone and will not be forgotten. They will need our continuing support in whatever ways possible. They will need our friendship and hospitality. Our own insecurities and concerns set alongside the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters will strengthen the realisation that we need each other.
The friendship into which we are called with God and with one another is radical in that God incarnate in Jesus is our friend and brother, sharing his purpose with us and drawing those who choose to follow into an intimate bond with himself and so with each other. God’s kingdom is global. We need to make whatever efforts we can to think and live in this global awareness of friendship, offering hospitality and love in its manifold forms for Christ’s sake.
The Good News is that we are embraced by God in the risen Christ as friends in his kingdom; we are grafted into the stem, intimately joined with the Source of our being and raised to new life in Christ. I pray therefore that our Christian hope and the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ will heal relationships between individuals, communities and nations, banish fear, overcome suffering and broker peace, that the dawn may come.
It is in this spirit that I greet you and close this Easter letter with a doxology and an ascription of praise.
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”