[Lambeth Palace] Text of Archbishop Justin Welby’s Easter letter to partners and heads of other churches around the world.
This Eastertide I greet you once again in the name of the Risen Christ, our Lord and Saviour!
We live in times in which the ultimate hope of our faith seems particularly difficult to communicate, and we look to find reassurance in the midst of doubt, courage in the face of despair, and joy in the depths of pain. Dear friends, let us continue to be comforted that we find all of this and more in the Easter story.
The day of Easter dawned on a world unaware of the transforming event of Christ’s Resurrection. It appeared that the powers that had conspired against Jesus had won the day. His friends and followers were faced with the trauma of the unjust and violent death of their Lord Jesus, in whom they had placed all their faith, hope and love. They were in the grip of confusion over what those events meant, deep guilt and shame over their own failure to stand with him when he most needed them, and fear of the future, both at the hands of the authorities, and the existential dilemma that would have come with the realisation that their Messiah had been defeated, causing them to go into hiding, or share their thoughts and feelings only with those of their own trusted circle.
What began to change them and the whole world was that their Jesus, the risen Lord, came to them and revealed himself to them. In the Gospel of Luke we read the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, trying in intense conversation to make sense out of what had transpired, when “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them”. Nothing could stop Jesus coming alongside and falling into step with them, sharing their journey and their concerns and opening their eyes and hearts until they recognised their Lord. In different situations and to different individuals the risen Jesus appeared and had fellowship with them, even to Simon Peter, the one weighed down by his own personal guilt of having betrayed his Saviour. And all those to whom he revealed himself saw him and proclaimed that “the Lord is risen indeed”.
It is in this context that we rediscover the Good News of the Gospel, which we share as Christians across the globe: that Jesus makes himself known to us in our own lives, and that no power or principality or circumstance can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” from which we draw all of our hope.
And because he first loved us, we take courage to share this love, to be his witnesses and disciples. It becomes our call to come alongside our brothers and sisters, be they of our own faith or not, to be Christ to them in solidarity with their concerns and needs, by sharing our confidence in the risen Lord through word and deed.
May the joy of the living Christ be yours as you celebrate Easter wherever he comes to meet you.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury