We are delighted that Bishop Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of The Society, has contributed this month’s Editorial.
I hope that all readers of New Directions have been inspired and renewed by the celebration of another Easter. The Resurrection is the most important thing that we believe as Christians: it is the centre of our faith, the foundation of our Christian experience, and the goal towards which our lives move.
As Christians, we are urged over and over again to trust in and accept the reality of the Resurrection and to make it a part of our lives through faith in the One who rose from the dead. We are a people who are called to believe in the power and the love that it shows – to believe in the power and love of God to bring goodness out of evil, life out of death, and hope out of despair.
We are also promised that when we trust and believe in this way – when we believe in the power and the love of God, a power and love that can raise the dead to life – our lives will be blessed, and that we will be a blessing to others.
Every night for the past few months, I have watched pictures of refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria. Some risk their lives to secure a new and safer future for their families. There are many different views about these refugees, where they should be settled, and how many of them can be given the possibility of a safe and secure future. As I see those pictures I am constantly amazed as I think about how hard it must be for them to find hope.
As we think about Easter, we have also to face the brutal realities of the violence and indignity of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We see all that is good beaten, broken, and battered, and hurriedly buried in someone else’s grave. It is indeed hard to find hope.
The Christian faith invites us to different ways of living: loving enemies; praying for those who do evil and hurt without a cause; practising forgiveness. Jesus, dying on the Cross, prayed for his enemies: ‘Father, forgive them.’
Jesus challenged the very concept of ‘enemy’, inviting people to see each other as children of the same heavenly Father. Such an attitude threatens the powerful and those who seek to divide people from one another on the grounds of race, creed, status, or schooling.
Jesus’ death was an apparent defeat for God’s way of living in the world – and if it had all ended on Good Friday, despair would be the only option. But Easter marks out a unique event in the human story: the resurrection of a man from the dead.
Jesus was given back on Easter Day: to give us courage to follow him; and to risk ourselves, our reputations, even our lives, to demonstrate the radical goodness of God’s love for us. There is our hope.
As members of The Society of St Wilfrid & St Hilda we must also find hope in the Easter message for our work together. We have come a long way in the past three years, and have made significant progress in organising our future life. But we still have much to do.
During 2016 the Bishops of The Society and others are preparing the ground work for some new and much-needed initiatives, which will be announced later in the year. We need to promote ourselves as a Society that is engaging in growing our churches, deepening the faith of our people, and reaching out – not only in this Year of Mercy – to those who have yet to know and experience the radical goodness of God’s love.
Our challenge as faithful Catholics has always been to flourish in the Church of England, and to have hope! Our predecessors certainly had the hope and the determination to flourish, and they have passed on to us a rich inheritance that we must treasure.
My challenge to you this Easter is for you to renew yourselves; and, as you do so, to renew also your commitment to our life together. The Easter hope for us is that we can now flourish in the Church of England – we just have to make it a reality. We are promised that what we believe will make a difference to us – and indeed it does. ND
X Tony Wakefield