Posted by Jon blackwell

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

An Easter like any other? Really? It certainly doesn’t feel like that, does it? Although a small minority of us may be enjoying the peace and quiet and a chance to catch up on jobs around the house that have been waiting years, even decades, to be done, the truth is that for most of you it is a challenging time. Some of you with smaller children in the house are struggling to keep them entertained and to burn off their energy – especially if you have no access to a garden. Some of you are teenagers and with no school, exams disrupted and not able to meet with friends, you are worried and frustrated. Many of you have come to Ireland from other countries and you are concerned for your loved ones far away.  Some of you have been laid off or furloughed, with financial hardship and an uncertain future. Others have seen businesses painstakingly built up over many years collapsing overnight. A significant number of you are working in the front line and risking your lives to bring care to those that need it most. We salute you and pray for you daily. Some of you have contracted the virus and survived. Some know those who have not.

And yet. Easter reminds us that Jesus in his death and resurrection has conquered the fear that is at the root of every other fear – the fear of death. And not only the fear of death, but death itself. Paul tells us in Romans (10:19-22) that the whole of creation – our world – has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now, awaiting the day of its redemption. Strong suffering is what characterises our world in every generation. Believers are not exempt from this suffering, but we have a hope which transcends all of it. Jesus our hope – in life, yes, but also in death. On the first Easter morning, fear and despair gave way to rejoicing. So it is today, even – perhaps especially – in our coronavirus world. No matter what life is throwing at you right now, this is indeed an Easter just like any other, because it affirms the power of Christ’s resurrection to conquer fear and death.

So we declare: “Christ is risen!” And although we cannot celebrate together in our bodies, we trust that in your heart you will respond: “He is risen indeed!”

Jon Blackwell

For the Elders