The Anglican Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, who comes from Ceredigion and has links to Bangor, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia, Mark O’Toole, are inviting people to come to church this Easter to find out how faith can transform our lives and help navigate a path through crises.
They have also joined together to release a joint message for Easter. This is the second joint message the Archbishops have issued since they took up their roles last year. Their first joint message was at Christmas.The full message reads:
‘Crisis? What crisis?’
These are the words supposedly spoken by a politician when confronted by a journalist about the state of the country. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t go down terribly well with a nation facing significant challenges.
In truth, the last year has seen a dreadful cost of living crisis, a bitter war in Ukraine to add to the ongoing concerns we are not doing enough to tackle the climate emergency. These will sit alongside the many personal challenges we may have faced – the loss of a loved one perhaps, Covid related ill health or employment challenges.
There are no glib answers here, certainly no straightforward religious ones.
But there are things which help us respond well. Easter invites us to think about the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. We are reminded that a man was betrayed by a friend, abandoned by everyone (save a few faithful women), endured a mock trial and was finally executed as a criminal. When the early Christians thought about these things, they had to wrestle with the question Jesus himself had asked as he was nailed to the cross: ‘Why?’
What helped the disciples answer that question was the realization that God had not abandoned them, as he had not abandoned Jesus. God was found in the midst of the struggles and heartaches that seemed unimaginably painful and hopeless. It was precisely because God had tasted death in and through Jesus that the disciples could make sense of their experiences. Here was a God, not locked away in some remote heaven, but one who was near, sharing their longings and also their worries for the future. When he appeared to them as the Risen Saviour, he opened a way not only of looking at the world in a new way but of navigating its challenges too.
Part of our response is to understand what these things mean for us. We can watch events unfold around us with a sense of despair (‘What can I do’?) or apathy (‘It will make no difference’) and become paralysed by inactivity. But when they discovered He was alive, the first Christians become agents of good and change in the world. They were not only inspired, they were transformed. Easter invites this same encounter; to meet Jesus Christ afresh.
We are writing to you to invite you to come and worship at our churches this Easter. We do not offer easy solutions to complex problems but we can share the One whose risen life will make a difference to you and your communities.
May we wish you a very happy, joy-filled Easter in the name of Christ.
Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John
Archbishop of Cardiff, Mark O’Toole