5 Apr 2015

Ecumenical Easter Messages




Easter Message of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem

“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1.3)

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, send our Easter Greetings and Blessings to all people everywhere in the name of our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.

In the face of so much that threatens to devalue or diminish human life, the hope that springs from the Resurrection is rooted here in Jerusalem.   The message of Easter has shaped the very identity of this Holy City over many centuries.   Here is located the site of the Empty Tomb, the place where God’s sovereignty over death and the powers of darkness was manifested in the raising of Jesus from the dead. As a consequence of this reality, the location where the Resurrection took place is not merely an object of archaeological curiosity but remains a living focus of Christian worship.   It is a place where God’s grace has been manifested in numerous ways down the centuries and for that reason alone it deserves respect.

Along with all people of good will, we are deeply distressed by the level of violence still being falsely perpetrated in the name of religion in parts of the Middle East and elsewhere in recent times. Members of some of the ancient Christian communities in this region – especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria – have been among those most directly affected, along with other minority populations.   There is no true religion which advocates violation of the human person or the victimization of minority groups in society and we condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms. Those who engage in such barbaric behaviour dehumanize not only their victims, but themselves.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we urge people everywhere not to fall into despair. The very existence of this city of Jerusalem is paradoxically a sign of hope that God’s kingdom of peace, love and justice will prevail. There are indeed signs of darkness around us which make this a painful time to live through, but the darkest part of the night is often shortly before the dawn. The joyful proclamation of the Resurrection at dawn on Easter Sunday assures us that the last word lies not with violence and inhumanity but with God’s purpose of love, justice and hope which runs like a thread throughout history and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the coming fullness of his Kingdom.

The Lord is risen!   He is risen indeed!

+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
+Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
+Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Aba Embakob, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+Msgr. Georges Dankaye’, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

*************


Text of Archbishop Justin Welby's (Archbishop of Canturbury) Easter letter to partners and heads of other churches around the world.

“Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Saviour, our Lord of life, shines upon you! Let all God’s people sing and shout for joy!”

These words of triumph are sung out across churches as Easter dawns. For centuries such sounds of joy at the Easter festival have echoed and continue to echo around the globe in a multitude of different tongues and cultural contexts, making a deep impact on the lives of Christians and Churches. With the confession of Jesus having conquered death we proclaim that we have been raised to new life in him.

In the 15th chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthian Christians, St Paul couples the resurrection of Christ with confidence in the resurrection of Christ’s people.

The Apostle clearly states that the resurrection of Christ is a beginning, and that the hope of our own resurrection can only be in Christ. He argues: if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then his proclamation is empty and our faith is in vain.

Having laid out all the arguments that would dispose of the Christian claim to the risen Christ, he continues: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." This is the faith that is also proclaimed in the Byzantine opening to the Easter Liturgy and which has been the confession of Christians down the ages.

The resurrection of Christ is the great hope, not only for each of us individually, but also for today’s troubled world - a world in which violence and violation of human rights describe the day to day context of people in many parts; a world in which moral and spiritual values often seem hopelessly inadequate against the forces of self-seeking gain in every sphere of life.

It is also a world in which our brother and sister Christians are still a beleaguered and even persecuted community in many places, as they have been at different times and places in history. We continue to remember the suffering Christians in the Middle East.
This year our remembrance is also focussed particularly on the Armenian people who a century ago were driven to their death and into exile because they were Christians.

It is into this world that the message of the Church at Easter remains constant over the centuries, proclaiming in the midst of hopelessness the hope of Christ, triumphant beyond death and the powers of evil; living and life giving amongst us.

In this resurrection faith we follow the saints and martyrs throughout the ages who have proclaimed the Risen Christ as their Lord and Saviour, who believe that in Christ there is abundant life and that death and suffering will not have the final say. The Easter faith strengthens us with the hope in life, here and now and in the world to come.

This hope is not an illusion, which turns out to be empty; rather, it is the tested cantus firmus over the ages for all Christians. Beyond human imagination, the power of the resurrection overcomes disparate, conflict-laden and destructive forces. We are called to proclaim God’s Good News in confidence and obedience to Christ to bring healing and reconciliation.

Christ’s resurrection, therefore, also compels us to ever closer bonds of Christian fellowship with one another – the saints in the here and now - to seek greater unity and work together with Christ, as his Body, in the newness of life already begun by him.

It is in this spirit that I greet you with this letter.

I will continue to pray that the hope and joy of the resurrected Christ will deeply move our hearts and souls, that it will heal relationships between individuals, communities and nations, and that it will banish fear, overcome suffering, broker peace and bring reconciliation.

I close with the Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:78): “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I embrace you with brotherly love in the Risen Christ,

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
Easter 2015


************


BELGRADE – Serbian Patriarch Irinej Friday sent happy Easter wishes to the leaders of all Christian churches who celebrate “the most joyous Christian holiday” on the Western Christian date for Easter Sunday. According to a release from the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej wished a happy Easter to Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Evangelical Bishop of Bavaria Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and dignitaries of other Protestant churches around the world.

Patriarch Irinej wished a most happy Easter to dignitaries and believers of traditional churches and religious communities in Serbia, including the Roman Catholic Church, Slovak Evangelical Church, Reformed Christian Church and Evangelical Methodist Church in Serbia.

The Serbian Patriarch also sent Easter greetings to ecumenical and denominational bodies and organizations – the World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches and other ecumenical bodies and organizations.

No comments:

Post a Comment