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Easter Sunday

After some years in Anglican Ministry Fr Chris was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Westminster in 1997. He has served in hospital, prison, youth and vocations ministry, and in parishes in East, West and Central London. He is currently Director of the Westminster Agency for Evangelisation and parish priest of St Mary Moorfields in the City of London and St Joseph’s, Bunhill Row.

‘He must rise from the dead.’ (John 20: 1-9)

Every Easter Sunday morning an old man climbs up to a balcony and proclaims, for all the world to hear, that the Lord is risen, He is risen indeed, alleluia! That man is the Pope. Giving his blessing to the City and to the World, Urbi et Orbi, he proclaims once more the Church’s life-saving, world-changing message – that death does not have the last word, that life is victorious, that love lives again.

Our Pope, Pope Francis, can proclaim this message, ever old and ever new, because on that first Easter Day our first Pope, Peter, with his brother-apostle John, saw an empty tomb – and in seeing it knew it was all true. They saw and they believed. Everything that the Lord had promised them they were seeing with their own eyes. Mary Magdalene’s message that the stone had been rolled away had set them running. She, the first witness of the resurrection, was the first to proclaim the news. Mary and Peter and John, their whole lives long, had this news to share, seeing and believing. Many faces with many voices have proclaimed it ever since.

This Easter Sunday in this year of our lives, we have that same news to share, and it is good news for all who struggle, who mourn, who weep, who wait, who never stop hoping. It is news which ‘dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.’ (From the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation).

Pope Benedict XVI puts it powerfully: ‘Faith in the resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered…God exists, that is the real message of Easter. Anyone who even begins to grasp what this means also knows what it means to be redeemed.’

Nearly 25 years ago, shortly after my ordination as a priest, I was sent as Chaplain to our Diocesan Youth Centre. In our Prayer Room at the top of the house, our very own Upper Room, we had a bold and powerful sculpture by the artist Lyn Constable Maxwell, ‘The Risen Christ at SPEC’.

At the centre of it was the figure of Christ, crucified and broken, and around him a golden figure, big and with arms stretched wide. Something small and ugly becoming something big and beautiful. Praying with that sculpture every morning before our working day began, our youth team - and me - drew inspiration, encouragement and strength. The Risen Christ changed – changes – everything.

So, with Easter faith, hope and love we keep on running, seeing and believing, with lives transformed, and proclaiming as we go…… the Lord is risen, He is risen indeed, alleluia!

 More resources for Lent and Easter