One of the great joys of Easter is the message of hope it brings to the world. The hope that one day our trials and tribulations will cease and we will be in a place of eternal peace. That despite our all-too-human wrongdoings we have forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That in his life and death he showed us a glimpse of a new kingdom with different rules. Christians around the world instinctively understand this and are called to live their lives to offer a glimpse of that hope to those around us.
For many people today this faith might seem a bit strange, even a bit abstract. You might wonder how an account of a miraculous event over 2,000 years ago can support us in our everyday struggles. It doesn’t bring a wage packet in or provide food for the table. It doesn’t end the austerity, fix the NHS, or instantly solve the numerous injustices of society. It’s a nice story, harsher than the Christmas story but with a happy ending, which is fine. But: is it irrelevant?
No. As leaders of the local Anglican and Roman Catholic churches we strongly believe that living in understanding of the hope of the resurrection gives a real purpose to our lives and the lives of the tens of thousands of Christians in our city and our region. In gratitude to Jesus Christ who sacrificed so much we are called to offer ourselves in service to others. Through a living relationship with a God who opposes injustice we are called to speak up for those on the edge of society so they may inherit a share of the true wealth that this country has to offer.
We are called to do this not because we have privilege but because we ourselves are poor, because we know failure as all people do, because in the midst of poverty and failure we have a new hope.
This country is calling for that new hope; for a new start; for, as the Anglican House of Bishops said, a 'fresh moral vision' – a new order for the country which puts care and compassion at its heart. And as the Roman Catholic Bishops have said, we are called 'to build a world in which respect, dignity, equality, justice and peace are our primary concerns'; where people are paid a decent wage for the work they do; where the vulnerable are cared for and respected; where government institutions treat people as people, not numbers on a balance sheet; where humanity and human dignity is placed at the centre of all our lives.
This is a glimpse of the new kingdom and the new hope that the Easter story offers: real and relevant. It drives and motivates many of our unsung heroes to volunteer time in food banks, debt advice centres; with the lonely, the asylum seekers, the disadvantaged and the lost. It is the hope that drives the Church to make a bigger difference to society week in, week out.
But it is also a glimpse of the hope that Christians feel as individuals. The hope that can turn round an addict or reform a criminal. The hope that can support the ill and comfort the bereaved. The hope that can bring us through adversity. The hope that can change your life.
Our prayer is you are touched by this hope this Eastertime.
Most Reverend Malcom McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool
Right Reverend Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool