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Easter messages cover a range of social and theological messages worldwide: CEN 3.28.08 p 2 March 31, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, The Episcopal Church.

A spectrum of theological belief and social concerns at work within the Anglican Communion were on display in Holy Week and Easter sermons and pastoral letters this past week.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori went Green for Easter asking American Episcopalians to consider the cost of their affluence. “We cannot love our neighbors unless we care for the creation that supports all our earthly lives,” she said and could not respect “the dignity of our fellow creatures if our sewage or garbage fouls their living space.”

“When atmospheric warming, due in part to the methane output of the millions of cows we raise each year to produce hamburger, begins to slowly drown the island homes of our neighbors in the South Pacific, are we truly sharing good news?” the presiding bishop wrote in an Easter message to the church.

New Zealand’s archbishops called Christians to see Easter as the celebration of love over death. Easter was the unique event in world history where the “final suffering of the Son of God reveal how deep God’s empathy is for the world, and how far divine love will go to redeem the pain and sin of the world. Evil manifested in so many forms – political, religious, psychological, and spiritual – poured itself out completely in this event.”

“And the Easter miracle is this – these murderous forces exhausted themselves without finally exhausting the faith, hope, and love of God,” Archbishops Brown Turei, David Moxon and Jabez Bryce wrote. “The resurrection,” they said “is the place in human history where evil, injustice, and prejudice are transfigured into justice, goodness, and enlightenment.”

The Dean of Perth urged Anglicans to rid themselves of outmoded notions of Easter. “The Resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality,” the Very Rev. John Shepherd said, noting it was “important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the Resurrection was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus’ original earthly body.”

The resurrection was a spiritual event for the disciples and not “historical records as we understand them. They are symbolic images of the breaking through of the resurrection spirit into human lives,” Dean Shepherd said.

The Archbishop of Sydney used his Easter message to warn Christians against false teaching and the occult. The popular fascination with ghosts reprented “the longing of the human heart for an existence beyond the grave,” Dr. Peter Jensen said.

Yet Christians believed death was not the end. “When you trust in Jesus Christ, you are trusting the one person who can take you through the greatest calamity of life and bring you safe to the other side. Christians don’t try to contact their dead because we know that they are with Jesus and we will join them as whole people – in fact those who belong to Jesus will be transformed people,” Dr. Jensen said as it “shows you that new beginnings are possible.”

The president of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, wrote he hoped the Paschal season “will instill in us an urge to seek transformation and thus empower us to work towards the making up of a society based on gospel values.”

“By his precious death and glorious resurrection, Jesus has reconciled the world to his Father. It is therefore imperative for CAPA to emerge as a reconciling body in Christ,” he said, and “facilitate conversations and dialogue in the midst of conflicts” that continue to plague Africa.

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