An Easter message from Bishop John
In his Easter message to the Diocese, Bishop John Armes considers the human cost of wars and unrest, the effects of mass migration and fuel poverty, and the way the pandemic may have left a negative mark on us, but is uplifted by the extraordinary change that can begin to happen as we come to the foot of the Cross.
“I’ve recently been reading Faith, Hope and Carnage (Canongate, 2022) which is an extended interview between Seán O’Hagan and the songwriter and artist, Nick Cave,” says Bishop John. “Religious faith, for Nick, lies behind all his creativity. It is also helping him to travel through the deep sorrows of losing his young son, Arthur – this experience too finds a place in his music.
“He hears echoes of his own loss in the collective grief of the pandemic and the ‘dread and despair’ many feel. He notes ‘the divisiveness that exists everywhere, the shocking lack of mercy and forgiveness, where so many people seem to harbour such an irreparable animosity towards the world and each other’, yet he finds hope behind all this. ‘Grief can have a chastening effect,’ he says, and collective grief ‘can bring extraordinary change, a kind of conversion of the spirit, and with it a great opportunity.’
“Here is food for thought this Holy Week. I wonder if we feel some of this dread and despair when we contemplate the human cost of wars and unrest, of mass migration and fuel poverty, all in the context of a climate crisis. I wonder in what ways the pandemic may have left its negative marks on us, and whether perhaps we exhibit or feel deep down a lack of mercy and forgiveness towards others.
“All this must come with us to the foot of the Cross, the place where we are required to be intensely honest about ourselves. For we know that the Cross is also where, in our collective grief at the death of Jesus, extraordinary change can begin to happen and where, enlightened inwardly by the Holy Spirit, we begin to discover how the promise of Easter may transform us and offer us and our world new opportunities.
“Good Friday and Easter offer us a moment of reset, of honesty and humility, for before the Cross and in the joy of the resurrection garden we are all sinners, all saved, and all called to love one another as Christ loves.
“May this week be a time of healing and hopefulness.”
(This is an extract of the message sent to clergy, lay readers and vestry secretaries earlier this week)