“Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord” – John 20:20
Perhaps because it is an example of one of the greatest understatements in all of Holy Scripture, I find this to be one of the more memorable texts coming from the four accounts of the Resurrection! It certainly gives a whole new dimension to the word “glad” while at the same time declaring in a single sentence the emotions of credulity, surprise, and above all, joy as these men and women came to the realization that the broken, dead body they had placed in the tomb a couple of days before, now was alive, vibrant and above all triumphant.
Although I am writing this early in Holy Week, when most of you read it, Easter will be on our doorstep, and we too, yet again, become triumphant because of HIS triumph! May it be a joyful and blessed season for all of you.
It seems as if only yesterday I sent you a Lenten Pastoral as we began that great season of preparation and I do want to thank you for the many responses I received as to what your parish was doing to make that time special and rewarding. I am sure many of us have been strengthened and enlightened by these activities, and that they make the message of Easter even more meaningful.
During the past two weeks we have witnessed two moving events: the Installation of a new Archbishop of Canterbury and the election and Installation of a new Pope. Just as Easter conveys a sense of new life and fresh beginnings, so may both of these great leaders infuse into our churches a new spirit of what it is to be disciples of the Risen Christ and be much more than just “glad” (in the modern, weaker sense of that word), but instead try to cultivate the new enthusiasm and zeal these leaders seem to have as they seek to carry out what they perceive God has raised them up to do.
During my first visit to Argentina around five years ago, our dear friend Archbishop Greg asked me to accompany him to a special service to which he had been invited. When we arrived at the great Roman Catholic Shrine we were warmly welcomed and escorted to the front pew. Within minutes we were joined by the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, now known as Pope Francis. Not only did he insist on us sitting one on either side of him, but when a high ranking state official arrived on the scene asking to be seated next to the Archbishop, he graciously but firmly informed the ushers that this space already was occupied by his friends – two Anglican Bishops! The qualities that we pray will make his tenure as Bishop of Rome special and God-honouring were so obvious even then.
We wait to see how Archbishop Welby will carry out his role in mending a broken Communion, but are much encouraged by the beauty of his Service of Installation (on the Feast of Thomas Cranmer) and by the moving challenge in his sermon.
May God bless them both, and may the spirit of EASTER JOY enrich and encourage them, as it also stimulates each one of us for the unfinished task that lies ahead.
My brother Bishops join in extending the joy of the Risen Christ to you all.
The Right Reverend Donald F Harvey
Bishop and Moderator