Archbishops’ Easter message – 2011

Tena Koutou, Malo Elelei, Namaste, Talofa Lava, Ni Sa Bula Vinaka.

Warm Greetings to you all. Grace and peace to you from God.

The message of Easter is a story of the victory of God in Christ over the power of sin and death.

The life, the wisdom, the mission, the trial, the torture, the death and the resurrection of Jesus bring a oneness with God, an “at-one-ment.” In Jesus, God builds a bridge over the deepest chasms of life – some of which we dig for ourselves.

Everyone knows loneliness, isolation and despair at times, everyone is afflicted in their hearts or their bodies by wounds and sins which can make us outcasts, outcasts to all but Christ.

The cross of Jesus and the empty tomb overcome this chasm and brings wholeness.

On the cross, Jesus shares all of our agonies and the consequences of our sin. This means that through the terrible human capacity for prejudice, ignorance, violence, malice, abuse; all manner of oppression was thrown onto his shoulders by the very nature of his betrayal, capture, trial, torture and execution.

The crucifixion of Jesus was a political, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical tragedy of the worst possible kind. On Good Friday, Christ endured the most fundamental of all suffering. He had endured what seemed like utter separation and desolation and was overcome, to his death. However, even though all these forms of evil penetrated him so comprehensively, in the end they totally exhausted themselves. They had done their worst.

Miraculously, God the author of life and hope, was not ultimately overcome by this sacrilege and total destruction.

On Easter Sunday, Christ’s life in all its fullness was completely, unexpectedly raised to become the centre of God’s new creation.

This radical, unprecedented victory over sin and death was once, for all, because Christ is the archetypal representative of our humanity in God.

Our fundamental sin, as a profound separation from God, died with his death, so that our life might rise again in his eternal life.

Christ on the cross is the first and ultimate place in all of human history, where a dying victim becomes the means of overcoming his oppressors’ sin, completely transforming this evil into the greatest good the world has ever seen. This was only possible through the death defying, life-giving grace of God.

The power of Easter began the healing of the world. The conversion of the penitent thief and the watching centurion at the foot of the cross, are the first fruits of this victory and the first signs of a new hope for all people. Christ’s death was a kind of blood-red sunset on the tyranny of sin and death over us, bringing to an end their fundamental life-denying power.

By raising Christ from death, God brings in the liberation of a new sunrise of grace in resurrection, new creation and hope.

By following in this Christlight, we are all shown the way to peace. It is this peace, which the world cannot give, which can sustain and bless those left crushed, bereaved and homeless by earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear disasters. We know this because God in Christ endures these things deep within the Godhead at Easter.

Even death is overcome: Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and, while it is still dark, begins to sing. Wishing you a holy and blessed Easter, from us all.

++Brown Turei, Pihopa o Aotearoa
++David Moxon, Senior Bishop of the NZ dioceses
++Winston Halapua, Bishop of Polynesia