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The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

Messages from Bishop Mark

2020 Easter Message

Posted by The Rt. Rev. Mark D. W. Edington on

An Easter Message from the Bishop
The police in the neighborhood called the Cathedral this week. It wasn’t a courtesy call; they were calling to make certain it was clear no services are permitted in the building, not for Easter or any other purpose. 
They were given assurances, of course. Services will be online—as they will be throughout the entire Convocation on Easter Day. (You can find out how to participate in the worship offered by your parish by having a look at the listing of services on our web page.)
But I could not help but wonder—what if there were no pandemic, and that call came anyway?
In this unexpected season of disruption and disease, one of the underlying stories has been what this moment has revealed about the often tense relationship between state power and the work and witness of the church. It is as though we are being reminded—and not so gently—that our ability to function as a church only goes forward by sufferance of the civil powers. Saint Paul, writing to the Ephesians, in some ways anticipated our circumstance: “We are not contenting against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness…” (Eph. 6:12, RSV)
This is hard for all of us; it is hardest, perhaps, for our clergy, who are deeply committed to the work of gathering spiritual communities. As one of my colleagues said to us on a recent call together, “We’ve been told we have to be useless and stay at home.” That is not a directive that goes down well with any of us, and certainly not with people who dedicate their lives to serving those in need and helping us. 
Of course, in the immediate sense we are contenting against something that assaults flesh and blood very directly—a virus that has sickened hundreds of thousands, crippled economies, shut down transit links, challenged even our very advanced research and health care systems. And it is both right and in line with Christian moral teaching that the church should ask her people to follow guidance that helps to keep people safe and reduces the speed of disease.
But it is also true that the central claim we make as Christians is the victory of Christ over sin and death on Easter Day; and the drama that leads to the victory of Easter begins with a conflict between the claims of righteousness and the power of the state. 
Easter will come this year as it always does. It comes not only when, or even because, we are permitted to hold it. It comes because Christ was raised from the dead, and opened for us the gates to eternal life. We celebrate that fact every Sunday, whether we are sitting in the pews or peering into our screens.
So I pray you will find new life and new hope in this Easter, even if for this remarkable moment we must do so in unfamiliar and distant ways. I pray you will find joy in the relentlessness, the certainty, of Christ’s victory for all humanity. And I pray that you might find, in the longing we all feel for the fellowship and celebration of the church we are all missing in this moment, a deeper sense of why it is God has called us to be in community with each other. After all, it is the nourishment of fellowship that we are missing most keenly in these days.
And I send you one small request. Would you write out on a piece of paper—or perhaps in a drawing, or a painting—that one word we wait so impatiently until Easter to be able to say, and with which we greet the victory won for us? Maybe as a selfie, maybe as a family photo? Just that word—“Alleluia!” 
Send it to me at  , and we’ll make a digital collage of these to share with folks around the Convocation. We might even manage to get one for each one of the fifty days of Easter—and we sure could all use an Alleluia!
The Right Reverend Mark D. W. Edington
Bishop in Charge
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

Tags: easter, health, wellness, online church, coronavirus