Easter Message from Bishop Paul Swarbrick

Easter Sunday has dawned beautiful and bright, it’s warm and spring-like out there. Birds are busy and bees are buzzing, and, since I haven’t yet turned on TV or Radio or various devices through which I can have access to the news, all seems pretty good with the world. There’s a touch of, ‘I’m all right, Jack’ about it, if truth be told. My little world is fine . . . . for the time being at least. Once I step out that is not guaranteed to remain the case, so, maybe I should just stay in, nice and safe. . . .

Last night things happened that affect us all. There are unpleasant matters that simply don’t go away. Yes, I can shut them out for a while, I can choose to turn away or turn off for a time, but I know they are still there, waiting to greet me when I do step out and face them. Later, perhaps.Jesus has risen from the tomb, Alleluia! He has stepped out before me, into the bright morning sun. He is out there, about this next phase of His Mission, to make known the Father’s love, to lift fallen humanity and corrupted creation, back to its feet, and higher still, to the Father’s side. He has finished his story-telling and begun showing Himself – complete with His battle scars – to whoever He meets. This is no Hide-and-Seek game; He wants us to find Him, He wants to find us, wanting us to know what He has done, what has happened.

And what has happened? He has broken out of the tomb, that ultimate ‘Holy Door’, and comes to our own thresholds, the doors of our living tombs, all that – in so many ways – closes us in. The Upper Room had become such a place for the frightened disciples, but He got inside, He came to them like some wonderful rescuer making it through into the ‘less than life’ we still inhabit. He brings His Easter greetings, ‘Peace be with you!’ And He shows us His hands and side. Of course, these remind us all too vividly of the horrors of the past few days, the violence, the power of evil and our own powerlessness. Does that help us or actually make things worse?

He knows what He is doing. His overwhelming purpose remains the same; to bring us Grace; to free us from the power of sin and death. I like to think that He breathed gently on the faces of His followers to remind them of the beauty of that gentle breeze that so encouraged the old prophet, Elijah all those years  before. Somehow, that’s all it took to convey the value of what had happened. They couldn’t get out to Him, so He got in to them.

And He is still doing that, now, today, for you! This is the work of God, and it is glorious!

Whatever your circumstances, whatever is enclosing you and your loved ones, whatever has happened in the past and is still troubling you, know that the Risen Lord is reaching in to you, to lead you out, over that difficult threshold into the days of Easter. It may not be the ‘quick-fix’ you were hoping for. It may not mean all your troubles have suddenly gone away, but it does mean that this is not the end of hope. ‘Peace be with you! I am with you. Continue to follow me. This is still the way to that better place. Stay by me. I will get you there. All will be well. I am risen indeed!,May you sense something of what the Risen Lord has done for you. May you sense His closeness to you now, whatever difficulties you have and whatever intractable persistent troubles the world throws at you. Yes, the Lord is risen indeed. Something very significant has changed for the better.

I wish you a very happy and holy Easter.

+Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster