Presiding Bishop's Easter Message 2001
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
Alleluia. Christ is Risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia. As we acclaim with joy the resurrection of Jesus, let us give thanks as well that we too have been raised with Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is our own resurrection: our being set free from imprisoning self-preoccupation with our successes and failures in order that we might enter into the peace of God which passes all understanding, and has the power to reconcile us to ourselves and one another, to heal us and to make us whole.
The risen Christ bestows this peace upon the disciples and upon us in the Holy Spirit: it is his own peace he gives us. It is the very gift of himself because he is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). Christ's peace is not, however, the accommodating, compromising peace of this world, but something far deeper: it is a peace that inhabits our hearts, transforms our minds, and cracks us open to God's passionate desire for the wellbeing of the whole creation. It is a peace that works in us the mystery of compassion: a compassion not of our own devising, but a compassion that is formed in us over time as we are conformed by the Spirit to the image of the risen One (Romans 8:29).
The accounts of resurrection bear witness to this compassion. They show us a Christ who gently draws near and meets us on our way as he met the two downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus; Christ who companions us and enters into the burdens we bear; Christ, the Word within the word, who renders scripture alive and active and sharper than a two-edged sword as it pierces us and causes our hearts to burn within us; Christ who reveals himself in the breaking of bread, in sign and symbol and sacrament, and the things of this earth; Christ who in the silence of the garden addresses Mary Magdalene tenderly and intimately by name and in so doing sets her free from the isolation of her grief; Christ who ministers to Thomas' need of certitude by inviting him to touch his wounds; Christ who overcomes the awe and confusion of his disciples by gently asking for something to eat; Christ who delivers Peter from his guilt and shame and rekindles his love by entrusting to him the care of his sheep.
In similar ways the risen Christ approaches us, meeting us in the midst of our lives, our struggles and our joys, and with infinite patience and great care invites us to come forth into a new place, a new reality, a new way of seeing and being that can welcome all in the power of Christ's own compassion worked in us by the Spirit. This compassion is animated by God's love poured into our hearts by the Spirit, a love that can bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things (1Corinthians 13:7).
May this deep compassion, rooted in God's peace, be Christ's Easter gift to each one of us who through baptism are limbs and members of his risen body the Church. And may the Church truly be a community of compassion bearing witness in all aspects of her life and mission to the risen Lord in whom all things are reconciled to God and made whole and free.