"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay" (Matt. 28:6 ESV). Happy Easter! We've gathered some of the Easter greetings from Canadian church leaders.
Rev. Rob Ogilvie, Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Executive Minister
Over and again I’m drawn back to the passage in 1 Corinthians 15 you will find below, which reminds us that the Christian faith is not grounded in just Jesus, but in the “resurrected” Jesus. We can’t overlook Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and that just days later he was arrested, tried, tortured and crucified. But the story that sets him apart from all others, is that he defeated death by rising again to new life and in doing so offers all who believe in him the gift of eternity.
Jesus didn’t come to give us a “little inspiration for just a few short years,” but rather to give us hope in this life and beyond. Our world is filled with challenges, struggles, hurt, suffering, judgment, condemnation and a great deal of uncertainty. May this Easter season be the reminder for us that in the midst of all this, its not “smoke and mirrors” or “fake news.” Jesus lives!
Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, United Church of Canada Moderator
Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!
This is a day of joy, a day of celebration! Christ is risen!
With Paul, talking to the Romans, we know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
In a world where death is present all the time; where there is war between nations or people somewhere all the time; where food is wasted at a horrendous rate while elsewhere people are starving; where climate change caused by us, caused by the corporations and economic systems that we have created, is killing off entire species, and threatens to do the same to humankind, the resurrection of Christ says, 'No. Death has no dominion.'
The resurrection of Christ says, 'Take heart. God’s love can do incredible things.'
But how, now? With a miracle?
Perhaps, but Reverend Bott says, "I believe that this time we are the miracle. We are the body of Christ that God is resurrecting. We are the body of Christ who must say with our very lives, 'Death has no dominion'."
He adds, I think that Easter, the resurrection, is a trumpet call that calls to the church, to the body of Christ, to all Jesus’ disciples, to fantastic actions that bring life. Actions that challenge and actions that make deep change.
Actions that live life in the face of death.
Actions that say to the powers that be, No! Death has no dominion. The resurrection not only of Christ, —but of the Word, is now.
It’s Easter. It’s a day of incredible actions - God’s, and ours.
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen, indeed!
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, The Anglican Church of Canada Primate
Last week I invited you to pray the Litany of Reconciliation offered daily within the ruins of the medieval cathedral in Coventry. Lying completely open to the sky, the ruins are a powerful sign of an openness to the will of God “to hold heaven and earth in a single peace”. As you leave the ruins making your way down a set of steps, you see a massive window that fills the entire “west” end of the new cathedral, consecrated in 1962. It is clear glass but etched into it from top to bottom are angels and saints dancing before the Lord. Through that magnificent work, one’s eye is then drawn to the great tapestry of Christ in Glory. The work of artist Graham Sutherland, the tapestry is seventy-two feet in height. It fills the entire “east” end of the cathedral. Christ is seated.
“The highest place that heaven affords is his,
is his by right,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
and heaven’s eternal light.”
(Hymn 491, Common Praise)
His feet bear the wounds of crucifixion. His hands are raised in a gesture of lifting the life of the world heavenward. He is “the ever Eastering Christ”, ever rising to make all things new.
By water and word he makes of us an Easter People united with him in his death and resurrection. Through bread and wine he nourishes us with his very self. He sends us into the world to live his risen life, to defy every evil course of action bent on the destruction and death of the children of God and our common home, the earth itself.
Here we see that along with the deep personal yearning as St. Paul puts it “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection”, there is a cosmic dimension to the Resurrection – one in which the old order of sin and death is overcome and the new order of redemption and fullness of life for all is proclaimed.
From the moment my eyes were drawn to that great tapestry, to walking toward and taking my place beneath it, and then stepping back and gazing at it from afar, I thought of the words of a lovely modern Easter hymn written by Brian Wren.
“Christ is risen! Shout Hosanna!
Celebrate this day of days!
Christ is risen! Hush in wonder:
All creation is amazed.
In the desert all-surrounding,
See, a spreading tree has grown.
Healing leaves of grace abounding
Bring a taste of love unknown.
Christ is risen! Raise your spirits
From the caverns of despair.
Walk with gladness in the morning.
See what love can do and dare.
Drink the wine of resurrection,
Not a servant, but a friend.
Jesus is our strong companion.
Joy and peace shall never end.
Christ is risen! Earth and heaven
Nevermore shall be the same.
Break the bread of new creation
Where the world is still in pain.
Tell its grim, demonic chorus:
Christ is risen! Get you gone!
God the First and Last is with us,
Sing Hosanna, everyone!”
(Hymn 223, Common Praise)
Let this be our song not for one day, but all fifty of the Great Festival of Easter.
Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Edited by the Catholic Register
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Christ:
On Feb. 21-24, 2019, I attended a meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome which was called for by Pope Francis for all of the presidents of bishops’ conferences across the world.
It was likewise suggested that prior to the event, the bishops could meet with persons who had been abused by clergy. Some asked to meet with me here in Canada and others in Rome. I thanked all of them wholeheartedly for their stories. I was deeply moved at hearing their pain and how it continues to affect their lives, their families and their communities. Their suffering reflects the mystery of the cross of Christ that makes itself present today in many varied ways.
In addition, during the meeting, we listened to other testimonies of victims of those traumatic abuses. One testimony touched me deeply, that of a mother who, abused as a child, had managed to rebuild the best life possible. She described how, at the birth of her first child, the pain experienced at the time of the abuse resurfaced, a pain more intimate and more intense than the very pain of giving birth.
While acknowledging the suffering, she nonetheless also spoke of the experience of giving birth with the beautiful Spanish expression “dar a luz” (“to give to light”). As I considered the joy she felt at her newborn as well as the expression “to give to light,” I was led to consider the Paschal Mystery in a new way.
This is illustrated particularly in the Gospel of John 16:21, where Jesus, in order to foretell His suffering, death and resurrection, uses the metaphor of a woman in childbirth who, having endured excruciating pain, suddenly experiences immense joy at the birth of her baby. Ultimately, the memory of the pain dissolves to absolute elation as she holds her newborn child in her arms.
The expression “dar a luz” reminds us of “The Light of Christ” sung three times out of the darkness at the Paschal Vigil as a sign that Christ, Light of the world, rises in glory out of the tomb in order to dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. This is the joy and the light that Easter brings. On Easter and because of Easter, new light shines through and new life comes forth.
For those who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial, it was an experience of darkness and despair. The horrific pain that Jesus suffered left His followers helpless and hopeless.
Then, on the third day after His crucifixion, just as their sorrow peaked, Scripture tells us that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, then to the disciples of Emmaus and finally to the apostles, who had retreated out of fear and sadness, to learn the good news that He had risen and was living.
In our own time we are experiencing the darkness of the tomb as the Catholic Church acknowledges the pain and suffering of countless minors who were sexually abused by clergy and consecrated persons. This sinful and criminal behaviour by some members of the Church has uncovered an evil that permeates every corner of the world today.
Most regrettably, sexual abuse takes place in the home, in schools, in sports organizations and in other contexts. It is indeed a social problem. However, in his final address to the bishops gathered in Rome for the meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church, Pope Francis stated unequivocally that the evil of sexual exploitation and the abuse of children must be eradicated from the Church.
Let us be clear: There is no place in the Church for those who harm children.
How do we as the people of God respond to this crisis? Where is our hope in the midst of this scandal? Are we, like Mary Magdalene and the disciples, paralyzed by doubt, fear and pain? Can we allow ourselves to be open to the hope, and yes, the light and the joy that the Risen Christ brings? Can we find healing, reconciliation, redemption and freedom as we immerse ourselves in the joy of the resurrection of Christ?
We are called to humbly place our trust in God’s promise that evil, sin and death will not have the last word on the human experience. As men and women of faith, who hold on to the promises of eternal life, our excruciating pain, suffering and confusion can give way to tremendous joy.
With Easter the darkness of the tomb is transformed by the light of the Resurrection. The Paschal Mystery is clearly present in many ways today: the suffering of death and the joy of life, the passage of Christ from the tomb to eternity, and the passage from the pain of child abuse to the experience of healing.
Christ’s resurrection points to that primordial joy that the new mother experiences — and the family with her — as the child is born “given to light.” The delight of a newborn, the elation of new life, the bliss of healing, the joy and the light of the Resurrection — these all point to the call of living each day the abundant life of Jesus Christ. This is the good news of the Easter experience.
Confident in the saving and life-giving actions of Jesus, it is precisely because of Easter that together we move forward to boldly proclaim in word and deed that Christ is risen. In Him we have light and joy, life and love in abundance. Alleluia!
Happy and Blessed Easter to you and to your families and loved ones.