Easter Greetings from Jerusalem, the Holy City of the Resurrection!
As we all know, it was from here in Jerusalem that the angel first greeted the women at the empty tomb, proclaiming, ‘Do not be afraid . . . He is not here; for He has been raised’ (Matt 28.5-6). It was from here that Jesus himself saluted these same women with the words, ‘Do not be afraid’ (Matt 28.10). And it was from here that the Risen Lord calmed the fears of his disciples as they hid behind closed doors, saying to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and breathing upon them the Holy Spirit (John 20.21-22).
During our Lambeth Conference in Canterbury last summer, our daily Bible study explored the First Epistle of Peter. Near the start of that letter, the Apostle writes that Christ’s resurrection offers us ‘a new birth into a living hope’ (1 Peter 1.3).
That hope would sustain the Apostles and early Christians through many trials and tribulations, giving them the strength to endure with joy, dignity, and grace. ‘In this you rejoice,’ continued St. Peter, ‘even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith . . . may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Peter 1.6-7).
These words both encourage and empower us during these tumultuous times, when our own faith continues to be tested. For wars continue to rage around the world. Financial crises cause stress within both families and nations. And natural disasters have seemingly become a weekly, if not daily occurrence. These and many other trials test our faith each and every day.
Yet Christ’s resurrection powerfully reminds us that our Lord was victorious over death and the grave. And just as Christ has been raised, so too have we been raised with him to a new life in the hope of that same resurrection (Romans 6.4-5). Through Christ’s resurrection, we have the blessed assurance of the Almighty’s gracious providence through the Holy Spirit, a source of divine power that is able to sustain us today, just as it sustained Jerusalem’s first Christians those many centuries ago.
And so during this time of Easter joy and thanksgiving, let me express our deep gratitude to all those who support our work through Friends of the Holy Land in strengthening the Christian witness and mission here in the region where Christ himself ministered during his earthly life. Your partnership helps us to share with those around us the very Easter hope that was first revealed to the women at the empty tomb here in Jerusalem.
It is in this hope offered in Christ’s resurrection that we exchange with you and our fellow believers around the world that ancient Christian greeting that continues to resound so powerfully today: ‘Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!’
May God grant you and your loved ones all of the blessings of Christ’s resurrection not only this Easter Day, but throughout the Easter season and beyond.