Easter message 2012 - from Bishop Peter


Over this long weekend Christians will commemorate, on Good Friday, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and reflect on His passion and His sacrifice. On Easter Sunday they will celebrate the Saviour's resurrection and His great and enduring commitment to humanity. The Bishop of Chester reflected on our God, who is Creator and Redeemer, in the current (April 2012) issue of CHESTER DIOCESAN NEWS, our monthly newsletter ...

Here is what Bishop Peter (pictured below) wrote ….

The early disciples greeted the risen Jesus Christ with two emotions: fear and joy.

Why fear? Because they hadn’t seen anything like it. The received view of God was as a distant, perhaps remote, figure, quite different from the world he had created.  The risen Christ proclaimed, into the very faces of the disciples, that this God had now drawn near, in a most intimate way.  ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9): Jesus’ earlier words were now realised in a very direct way, that first Eastertide.

At the heart of the Christian faith there is a new revelation of God, a revelation of a God of love, who is the Redeemer as well as the Creator. The primary image used in the Bible for God’s relationship with the world is marriage. God commits himself to his world in covenant love, even unto death. The resurrection reveals the enduring depth of God’s commitment to his world, to you and me.

The fear and anxiety of the first disciples soon passed into joy.  The risen Christ did not meet his disciples in order to condemn them for their sins, but to proclaim the forgiveness of sins.  The judgement of the world carried the promise of the salvation of the world.  The sting of death was drawn, the last enemy had been overcome. The risen Christ says first to his disciples ‘Peace be with you’ or, splendidly, ‘Come and have breakfast’.

The breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee continues in the life of the Church in the sacramental meal of the Holy Communion.  There we feed at the Lord’s hands, and receive the ‘mystic wine and everlasting bread’ as Charles Wesley put it.
The life of the Church should resemble a birthday party – not a celebration which passes until next time, but a continuous celebration of the rebirth of the world, and our rebirth symbolised in our baptism. Not the sort of superficial celebration to which the modern world too readily defaults, but a deep, all-embracing celebration that we have been given life in all its fullness.

That’s why the initial fear of the disciples was quickly engulfed in joy. +Peter