An Easter Message from the Provincial Grand Chaplain


Easter Day


When I started to think about what I was going to say in this year’s Easter Message, I thought that it was going to be easy!  Looking at the diary, I saw that the first day of the week was 1st April.  Then I realised that it was the first day of the so-called working week which was 1st April, and not Easter Day…!  In most diaries and calendars, Sunday is no longer the first day of the week.


Easter Day does of course fall on April Fool’s Day from time to time, and it is something of a gift to clergy and ministers!  Just imagine it – “Jesus has risen from the dead!”  No April Fool, no joke or deception, this is no illusion created by Artificial Intelligence.  This is fact – Jesus Christ is risen, incredible as it may be.


I am always struck by the gentle way in which the Resurrection is revealed in the Gospels which contain the account of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry.  The writers could be forgiven if they madly rushed to share the Good News that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, but that is not what we find.


Orthodox Christians believe that the writings of the New Testament are inspired by the Holy Spirit, including sharing with us the mystery of the Resurrection, acknowledging that this is something very special indeed, and something which can come only from God.  The Fourth Gospel, John’s Gospel, is more reflective in tone and substance, and from the beginning proclaims the Word’s union with the Father from before all time.  Yet, even in that Gospel in the first instance, the only inference that we get are the words which refer to the Beloved Disciple as he enters the empty tomb “he saw and believed”.  All we have otherwise is an apparent robbing of the grave which was not uncommon on those days. 


It is a very natural sharing of how those first witnesses came to understand that the apparently impossible had indeed happened, and that Jesus had risen from the dead.  As we read on in the Gospels, as we hear of actual encounters with the Risen Lord, the fact of the Resurrection is proved to those who believe, as it was proved to many of Jesus’ faithful followers in the first instance.


After almost two thousand years, it is understandable that the fact of the Resurrection has lost something of its potency.  We can see traces of this even in the later writings of the New Testament, some thirty years after the Resurrection, as the years pass by, and Jesus has not retuned as he promised.


It is the Psalmist who reminds us that for God

a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

Words which are echoed in the Second Letter of Peter:

The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

A bit like the hour between 1.00 and 2.00 on Easter Day – vanished!


Many of us are not very good at being patient.  I can certainly be very impatient in somethings, unless I know that the matter is entirely beyond my control, and that being impatient will only serve to aggravate, and actually distract from what I can or need to do.  It is only when I have that right frame of mind, a willing acceptance of the reality of the situation, of what I can and cannot do, that I will patiently wait!  I seem to be getting a rather better at this as I get older…


As the reality of the Resurrection is gradually revealed in  the Gospels, as the mystery of the empty tomb is solved in part, Believers still have to remain patient.  The reality of the Resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith, and it is the basis on which it is believed that Jesus will come again at which point in the future when there will be a physical resurrection of the dead, and transformation of those living at that time.


In this sophisticated day and age, for many that sounds like utter nonsense.  So it should to any rational human being, who does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead.  As St Paul points out with pointed frankness, if Jesus has not risen from the dead then not only are Christians wasting their time and effort, but they are blatantly blaspheming God, and should all be Jews, living according to God’s words in the Old Testament.  It is as simple as that!


It is however fundamental that Christians do not lose sight of the fact that the Resurrection is not only about life after death.  To do so would be to miss the essential point entirely about this life, this gift from God which is intended to be enjoyed.  In this regard, the Resurrection is about discovering and living life – true life in this mortal life. 


The Christian belief is that Jesus’ resurrection transforms life in this world.  The precise details of the  belief and faith, like most aspects of ourselves, often change over the years, and that is something natural and often positive.  It does require effort to ground one’s life on the fact of the Resurrection, however it usually becomes more natural the stronger the faith becomes and the deeper the love for God.


It is similar to the way in which the life of the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection changed.  As a result of their encounters with the risen Lord, their tears turned to laughter, their sorrow to joy, their doubt to belief.  Were it not for those witnesses, for the fact that they believed what they saw, there would be no Christian faith.


Many of those first witnesses lost their lives in this world, for what they had seen, for what they believed, for what they shared.  They did so believing that ultimately, life everlasting with God could not be compromised by rulers of earthly power only.


For those of us who believe in Jesus’ victory over death, his resurrection from the dead, may our faith be strengthened and enriched, and our lives in this world continually transformed that we may be witnesses to the fact in our own time, that in the fulness of time, we too may attain the fulfilment of the promises made.


this hymn written by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-85) draws extensively on the writings of St Paul, and his certainty in the Resurrection and its meaning for the whole of creation.  ‘Alleluia’ is of course the word for the Season of Easter, and derives from the Hebrew meaning ‘praise God’ – Alleluia! Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!



1 Alleluia, Alleluia,
hearts to heaven and voices raise;
sing to God a hymn of gladness,
sing to God a hymn of praise:
he who on the Cross a victim
for the world's salvation bled
Jesus Christ, the King of Glory,
now is risen from the dead.


2 Christ is risen, Christ the first-fruits
of the holy harvest field,
which will all its full abundance
at his second coming yield;
then the golden ears of harvest
will their heads before him wave,
ripen’d by his glorious sunshine
from the furrows of the grave.


3 Christ is risen, we are risen;
shed upon us heavenly grace,
rain, and dew, and gleams of glory
from the brightness of thy face;
that we, Lord, with hearts in heaven
here on earth may fruitful be,
and by angel-hands be gathered,
and be ever safe with thee.

4 Alleluia, Alleluia,
glory be to God on high;
Alleluia to the Saviour,
who has gained the victory;
Alleluia to the Spirit,
fount of love and sanctity:
Alleluia, Alleluia
to the Triune Majesty!



I offer this prayer, also based on St Paul’s writings:

Now, the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit; through him who died for us and rose again, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


I wish you and athose near and dear to you a joyful Easter.

Dymunaf gorfoledd y Pasg i chi a’ch annwyliaid.

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