Tuesday, 13 April 2010

To the Laos - To the People of God, April 2010

Note - the To The Laos letter for February was inadvertently not posted onthe blog earlier. It follows on below this month's letter.

Dear People of God

Alleluia, Christ is risen – We are risen, Alleluia! I wish you all a blessed and joyful Easter!

Easter is of course not just one day of celebrating how Christ was raised for the dead for our salvation, but the Great Fifty Days of Easter, which runs through the fifty days between the Jewish feasts of Passover and Pentecost (which literally means ‘fiftieth day’), from Jesus’ resurrection to the coming of the Holy Spirit. Yet alongside this season within the Church’s liturgical year, there is a sense in which we are called always to be ‘Easter People’, stepping from the shadow of the cross into the light of the resurrection, and extending a hand – the hand of Christ – to others, to help them do the same.

The challenge to us, which we are to share with the world, is to ‘choose life’ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. And in order to choose life, it may be that we have to let go of something that is holding us back – something that may have been a comfortable or even necessary part of life beforehand, but which now keeps our feet in the grave. It may mean anything, for example giving up an old habit, old attitudes, old ways of doing things, old priorities – any part of life that has outlived its usefulness, or its appropriateness within the changes of our own lives and societies, and now is more a source of diminishment and stagnation rather than life and growth. It may mean having the courage to step out and take on something new.

New life is also the promise of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. God’s Spirit not only sustains all of creation in being, but also indwells all the daughters and sons of God within the body of Christ. It is the Spirit who leads us into all truth, and who opens our eyes to see God’s vision for the life to which we are called. As we pray for grace to ‘choose life’ we should also be consciously aware that this is a challenge to have our eyes opened, and see possibilities for new life, where we had not previously recognised, or perhaps not been willing to recognise.

In the Collect for Pentecost, we ask God to ‘inspire our hearts and set them on fire with the Spirit’s joy and power, and send us out as witnesses to the wonder of your love’. This year, I should like to invite you all to continue to pray this prayer through to the holding of Provincial Synod, from 29 September to 2 October, at the Kopanong Centre in Benoni. Pray for all of us who will meet there – especially those who have been elected to represent your own Dioceses. Pray that as we come together and take counsel in the presence of the Lord, desiring to discern his will for us and to translate it into the processes and procedures of our Church’s life, that our hearts will be set on fire with love for God and his world. Pray that we will indeed be inspired with God’s vision for our Province – the ‘Vision 2020’ process on which we have been working.

Last year Provincial Standing Committee affirmed the work we had done so far, and proposed that at Provincial Synod we look more deeply at our calling to be ‘Anchored in the love of Christ – revealed in Scripture; Committed to God’s mission – with compassion and joy; and Transformed by the Holy Spirit – through discipleship and worship’. As we have been taking forward this work on our Vision and Mission statement, we have begun looking in more detail at eight priority areas through which to give these expression: liturgical renewal for transformative worship, theological education and formation, leadership development, health (including HIV and AIDS, malaria and TB), the environment, women and gender, protection and nurture of children and young people, and public advocacy. There are in addition two further themes – evangelism and reconciliation / transformation – which inform and influence all of these areas. For this reason, we decided not to list them alongside the eight priority areas as this would risk separating them out from other areas of our common life, in which they should rather be an integral part. I intend to devote parts of my next few letters to saying a little more about each of these priorities.

Of course, there is much other business for the Synod to conduct, to shape our common life, and there is still time for motions for discussions to be put to us, through the appropriate channels. Please do keep our preparations in your prayers – especially the work of the Provincial Executive Office. The Revd Allan Kannemeyer, formerly Archdeacon of Hennops River in Pretoria, who has joined the office as ‘PEO Intern’ to work alongside the Revd Canon Robert Butterworth through to Synod, with a view to taking over from him thereafter. Also at Bishopscourt, last month saw the retirement of Mrs Cynthia Michaels, after many years as our receptionist. She has been succeeded by Miss Sisanda Majikazana, whose voice will now greet you when you telephone here. We wish Cynthia every blessing in this new chapter of her life, and warmly welcome Allan and Sisanda into our team.

Other ‘family’ news within the Province that I would like to share for your prayers is, first, that on 20 April there will be an elective assembly for the new Bishop of Mpumalanga, following Bishop Les Walker’s death last year. Then, on 24 April, Bishop Mazwi Tisani, currently the Suffragan Bishop of Pretoria, will be installed as the First Bishop of the new diocese of Ukhahlamba. He was appointed by the Synod of Bishops in February, after the Elective Assembly referred to them the decision. Thank you for upholding our Church, and its role within the countries of our Province, in your prayers. I was acutely aware of being sustained by the prayers of others, as I attended the funeral of Mr Eugene Terreblanche last week in Ventersdorp.

Let me end by returning to the morning of our Lord’s resurrection. Mary in the garden did not recognise Jesus as she did not expect to see him. Let us pray that our eyes will also be opened to recognise our risen Saviour where we do not expect to see him – so that, like her, we may then ‘go and tell’. May God bless you as his Easter people, making you a blessing to others.

Yours in the Service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

To the Laos - To the People of God, February 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are barely six weeks into the year, as I write, but the good rest of the Christmas and New Year break is beginning to seem rather distant already!

The theme that has come to dominate the start to my year arose from reflecting on Jesus’ healing of the deaf mute man (Mk 7:31-37). All of us need his healing touch, unstopping ears and opening mouths, to hear what he is saying, and then declare his truths to his world. God, it is said, gave us two ears and one mouth, with the intention that we should spend twice as much time listening, as talking! In this way, first we receive, and then we are to share.

I began the year with a consultation of Christian leaders, an informal gathering from across the whole body of Christ. We felt a strong conviction God was urging us to pursue greater unity and cooperation, with Jesus Christ at the centre. For it is as members together of the body of Christ (rather than united around some external issue like apartheid or poverty) that we belong together. Having had our ears opened in this way, we aim to come closer to each other, and hope we will go on to speak more effectively – demonstrating unity in Christ, even in our diversity. Fundamentally, it is of course Jesus himself whom we most need to receive, and in turn must share with the world.

I had a different experience of listening and speaking when the electoral assembly of the new Diocese of Ukhahlamba (created from the northern part of the Diocese of Grahamstown) decided to ask the Synod of Bishops to make an appointment. Sometimes, deciding to do what seems to be ‘nothing’ takes considerable courage. It is a reminder to unstopped ears that God’s voice is often still and small, and may say ‘Wait’. We must learn to listen carefully, and not be afraid to share that ‘wait’ with others, when it comes.

Later that same week I joined other faith leaders to bless the Cape Town 2010 Stadium. Religious communities share so much in common, especially as we join in addressing increasing secularism. Yet inter-faith events also require careful listening to how our Lord would have us speak. I was glad to be the Christian voice in the Stadium’s opening, and unashamedly asked God’s blessing, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit. We should not be afraid to make clear our distinct belief in the God who is Trinity, and the salvation and redemption that come through the cross and resurrection. My particular prayer is that in 2010 God may bless all who compete and who spectate; and inspire us all to reach for excellence, to promote fair play, to share in team spirit, and to enjoy together the great gifts that sport offers humankind.

More listening and speaking followed at the end of January when I travelled to Switzerland, for the annual meeting of global leaders in the World Economic Forum at Davos. I am glad to say that faith leaders are increasingly seen as having a vital contribution to make to this gathering. Many of us were discussion leaders in various sessions, and some contributed essays to a report circulated to participants, on ‘Values for the Post-Crisis Economy’. The crisis of values and ethics in global economic policy-making has brought new possibilities for the voice of faith in the public arena – do pray that Christian leaders, not least our own highly respected Archbishop of Canterbury, will use these well.

Last week, I joined the Chief Rabbi in giving what we termed a ‘Moral State of the Nation Address’, each from the perspective of our own faith community. My hope is that this might become an annual event, with other religious leaders also participating. I argued that ‘morality’ is a word that describes how the whole of life is lived, and concerns the totality of what it is to be a human being and to flourish. As I have done before, I underlined the three key areas of what this means, which we learn from the story of Noah: the sanctity of life, the stewardship of creation, and the dignity of difference.

I am sure the audience were wondering whether I’d comment on the news that President Jacob Zuma has fathered a child outside marriage! I hope I made my views clear when I said that promiscuity, unfaithfulness, adultery, unprotected sex that risks spreading HIV or resulting in unwanted pregnancies and appallingly high numbers of abortions – all of these are offences against the sanctity, the sacredness, of life. They are acts of emotional violence and physical peril, and demeaning to the human dignity of all involved. Of course, sex is wonderful – it is one of God’s best gifts to humanity. But the greatest gifts are open to the worst abuses, and therefore we must use the gift of sexuality wisely and well. The full text is available on my blog (http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org), on the ACSA website (www.anglicanchurchsa.org), and from Diocesan offices.

Many of us have been concerned to listen and speak, and also act, well in our response to the disaster in Haiti. We need to listen to what is most needed – whether in urgent disaster response, or the long reconstruction process. I was glad to endorse the ‘Africa for Haiti’ Campaign launched by Mrs Gra├ža Machel. Our continent has received so much support over the years. Now we must stand in solidarity with the Haitians, and do what we can – including urging our leaders to make tangible and generous commitments. This requires careful, respectful, listening to Haitians themselves, about their priorities for their own future. We can also listen and speak, in solidarity with their pain trauma. Through joining in lament, we can both allow ourselves to be drawn into their tragedy, and share in proclaiming that God listens to all who suffer. Weeping with those who weep is a holy way of listening and speaking in response to disaster.

Finally, may I thank you for your continuing prayers and support (including many messages of congratulations on my PhD – thank you!) for my ministry, and for our Church. Please do hold the Diocese of Mpumalanga in your prayers, following the death of Bishop Les Walker last November, and the Diocese of Ukhahlamba as a new Bishop is chosen (the Synod of Bishops will be meeting as this letter goes out to you all). And may our Lord bless you richly in the year ahead, and make you a blessing to others.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Monday, 12 April 2010

Statement following the funeral of Mr Eugene Terre’Blanche

CORRECTED VERSION

‘We are here to weep with those who weep’ said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, as he left the funeral of Mr Eugene Terre’Blanche in Venterdorp this afternoon.

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town was accompanied by senior clergy from the Diocese of Matlosane, in which Ventersdorp lies (the Venerable David Dinkebogile, the Venerable Methla Beleme, and the Venerable Lesley Mokwena, representing the Bishop of Matlosane, the Right Reverend Molopi Diseko). ‘We are here as a ministry of presence, to mourn with the family’ he said, adding ‘In Easter week, we want to affirm the message of resurrection in the face of death and all that is destructive of human living. It is a message of hope that bridges all human differences, including racial divides, and we are therefore here to affirm that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.’

Speaking as heavy rain fell in Ventersdorp, Dr Makgoba said that he and his colleagues would not be going on to the graveyard, adding ‘We shall nonetheless continue to hold the family in our prayers, as well as praying for peace and national reconciliation in our country.’

Note - this statement was originally issued on 9 April, but because of technical problems could only be posted here today.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Pastoral Letter to All South Africans

My fellow South Africans,

The message of Easter – a message of hope and new life after darkness and death – could barely be more relevant to the political life of South Africa than it is today. At a time of continuing debate about ‘hate speech’, it is a compass for us all, whatever our beliefs or backgrounds, in considering how best to relate our past to our future, and especially so following the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche.

South Africa is an amazing country of wonderful possibilities. To realise them requires answering the question: what future do we choose for ourselves? Will we persevere in pursuing fulfilment of the justice, the equality, the opportunity, the reconciliation, for which so many struggled for so long?

Much remains to be done, as we all know. We must confront the past’s many enduring legacies, especially of socio-economic inequality and poverty. We cannot deny former oppression and injustice, or the sacrifices that were made to bring about democracy – nor should we want to. We cannot afford to forget.

But now we have freedom, including freedom of choice about how we remember the past, and how we deal with its lingering negative consequences. We can do so constructively, appropriately honouring our history and using its lessons as building blocks towards a better future. Or we can do so destructively, chaining ourselves to the damaging and divisive attitudes that kept people apart, mired in fear and mistrust, in hatred and revenge. We can choose the forward path of Easter life, or we can remain with our feet in the grave.

The Easter path to life was the one our nation chose seventeen years ago, when, on Holy Saturday, Chris Hani was assassinated at his own home. It was a deliberately divisive political act, after which the nation teetered on the brink of disaster. We looked into the abyss opening before our feet – and turned away, choosing instead to walk together towards a future where we could celebrate our diversity, united in our commitment to shared equality and opportunity for all. This year, Holy Saturday has seen another violent murder of a man in his home. But this was a very different man, of very different calibre. The motives remain unclear, and we should neither jump to conclusions, nor create links if none existed. Nor should we let this crime be exploited by extremists, of whatever persuasion, for narrow self-interest and to the detriment of our country as a whole. The key parallel with seventeen years ago is that once again we can and must choose life, and keep striving for the good of all.

In the years since freedom came, there have been many other ways in which we have shown the moral and political maturity to let our past be ‘baptized’ into new life. Take 16 December, formerly the Day of the Vow, now the Day of Reconciliation. As a boy growing up in Alexandra township, on ‘Dingane Day’, as it was also known, we used to hide, scared that if we met white people from Lombardy East we would be indiscriminately attacked. We should now be proud that we have been able to take a day that reinforced the violent victory of one community over another and transform it – determined that hatred and revenge should be subverted and overcome by the greater power of new relationships, forged through a shared journey of reconciliation.

We need a similar programme of redemptive and transformative ‘subversion’ of other elements of our past: acknowledging them in their context but declaring that, untransformed, they are no longer relevant within the life of constitutional democracy. Songs such as ‘kill the boer’ or ‘De La Rey’ fall into this category. They have nothing constructive to offer to today’s political imperatives. They cannot promote the nation building and social cohesion that are vital to the future success of our country, especially when perhaps 3000 or more farmers have been killed within our beloved land since 1994. They do not address the old, deep-flowing, currents of anger and fear that run through divided communities, or their historic sources. Nor do they do anything to further the rights of farm workers, or to strengthen the capacity of new black farmers, to name but two further urgent priorities within the agricultural sector.

I therefore call on our political leaders – especially those in the ANC, to whom, though our vote, we have entrusted the well-being of the nation and every one of its citizens – to lift their discourse to a higher level. They must return to the central question: what kind of nation do we want to be? This is the point around which debate should focus. This must be the goal towards which all our rhetoric, and also our action, is deliberately directed – with the explicit condemnation and repudiation of all that does not serve our striving for the common good. Today’s appropriation of the past must be done in ways that intentionally further, not undermine, the objective of the struggle: a reconciled country of justice, equality, opportunity and economic development. Politicians must give a strong lead, in word and deed. And the rest of us must both hold them to this task, and support them in it.

For all South Africans, Easter Monday is marked as Family Day. It is a day not only for spending time with our nearest and dearest, but also a time for reflecting on what builds up the rainbow family of our nation. Whatever your beliefs, I invite you to join me in working – and praying too, if that is your tradition – for a shared life-giving and hope-filled future for everyone, not only one day a year, but every day. And may God bless us all.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Press Release on the Murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche

Issued 4 April 2010

'Let Easter break the cycle of death' said the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, responding to the murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche.

'I heard the shocking news of his killing as I was leaving Cape Town Cathedral in the early hours of Easter Sunday, having just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead' said the Archbishop. 'I condemn the murder of Mr Terre'Blanche, and extend my deepest condolences to his family, whom I hold in my prayers. No child of God, no matter who they are, no matter what their views, should end their lives in this way.'

The Archbishop went on to say 'Easter gives us the ability to break the cycle of death, wherever it is found. The power of God, that raised his Son Jesus Christ from death to new life, will help us choose the path of life for our country and to reject any response that fuels racial hatred. Let all of us be Easter people, doing what we can to uphold the President's call for calm, and work for a better future for our nation.'

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Good Friday Sermon

This sermon was preached at The Diakonia Council of Churches’ 25th Ecumenical Service in Durban on 2 April 2010. At the end of the service, the Congregation processed in reflective and solemn silence to the City Hall, where concluding prayers were held. The theme of the day was ‘Creation – Crucified by Greed’ – ‘For we know that all of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time’ Romans 8:22.

Bible Readings: Amos 5:7-15; Luke 23:26-34,39-42

May I speak in the name of God, whom we remember today most especially as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of Life.

Dear people of God, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, thank you for your invitation to join you on this most solemn day in the Church’s calendar. Today we reflect again on something that we shall never fully grasp, this side of heaven – the unimaginable extent of the love of God: revealed in Jesus Christ, who cared enough to give up his life on the cross, for the sake not only of humanity, but of all creation. St Paul sums it up within the great poetic description of redemption that he offers in the first chapter of his letter to the Colossians. Here we read ‘through Jesus Christ, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.’

We know our understanding of Good Friday and Easter is always too small and there is always more to grasp. But our picture of salvation is certainly too narrow if we only consider the promises of God for humanity – mind-boggling though these are. The redemption won on the cross by Jesus Christ is not only for us, it is also for ‘all things, on earth and in heaven’. Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, not only for cleansing the guilt of sinners, the perpetrators – which is of course what all of us are.

It is also about redeeming all the negative consequences of human failures and wrong-doings:

• of repairing the damage,

• of putting right what has gone awry,

• of transfiguring what has been marred,

• of rescuing what has been lost,

• of mending what has been broken,

• of healing what has been wounded.

Everywhere the salvation of Jesus Christ brings new life and new beginnings: for humanity, and for all creation. This is the hallmark of the kingdom of God – the kingdom that both is, and is to come. And though we know we shall see such redemption in all its fulness at the end of time, we are also to be part of the coming of the kingdom here and now – partners with Christ in his good news for all creation.

But the stark truth is that creation itself is a battle-ground for God’s kingdom – at the hands of the most destructive elements of selfish, greedy, short-sighted, sinful humanity. Pollution, environmental degradation, global warming, climate change … We are complicit in the varying weather patterns that bring worse floods, harsher droughts. We see this happening within Southern Africa. Even more seriously, across the Indian Ocean – which laps so pleasantly on Durban’s beaches – the entire nation of the Maldives is threatened with being wiped off the map, as the sea rises and covers their islands.

God calls us to be part of the solution, not part of the problem – part of the coming of the kingdom, partners in his working of redemption and salvation.

‘Seek the Lord and live …’ says the prophet Amos, condemning greed and corruption in the exploitation of the earth’s resources and its people. The same choice lies before us. Will we seek the Lord and the ways of life – as individuals, and also as members of the communities, society, nation, and global human family of which we are a part?

Last year the Anglican Communion called on Anglicans everywhere to reduce their carbon footprint by 5% annually. Personally, I must admit that my travelling gives me a terrible footprint – only last week, for example, I was in the Netherlands at a conference of religious leaders on HIV and AIDS. But I am working hard to ensure my overall trend is to meet this steady and continuing reduction. I also want to achieve in it my home and offices in Bishopscourt; and across our churches.

We must also learn to help our communities to follow the prophet Amos’ call to ‘seek good and not evil, that you may live – hate evil and love good, and establish justice …’ If you don’t already know the work of SAFCEI, the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute, I strongly commend them. They have considerable resources for us – and we, by giving them our support, strengthen their voice in advocacy. I also commend the South African Council of Churches’ work, including the excellent publication ‘Climate Change – A Challenge to the Churches in South Africa’, downloadable from their website.

We can and must make democracy work, to influence local, provincial and even national government policies, on everything from preserving biodiversity to responsible water usage and waste management. Sometimes we must be like those whom Amos describes as ‘reproving at the gate’. The gate-way, the entrance, of a town was where the elders sat and debated the questions of the day. It was the place of public policy making. Our voices must be heard there, and where necessary we will ask awkward questions and offer critique and, as appropriate, criticism too.

At the moment, these are the questions I want to ask at the gate of government:

• Why is there not greater investment in renewable energy, when we have such untapped potential?

• What is being done to encourage efficient electricity consumption by large industry which has, in its secret sweetheart deals for cheap energy from Eskom, so little incentive to act responsibly? It is outrageous if domestic consumers are subsidising industry, without any accountability, or even honesty before parliament.

• What is the justification for seeking a World Bank loan for $3.75 billion (R29 bn) loan for new coal-powered generators – described as inappropriate financing for a bad project?

We want truth, and we want justice for society and for our planet. Without these, the life of every living thing is put at risk. We also want our government to be fully committed to being part of the global solution, not part of the global problem – and not only in decisions around energy generation. Our government must work for good outcomes at next December’s UN meeting in Mexico. Now is not too early to begin.

This is both a moral and a justice matter. Alongside the moral questions of harming the creation of which we are stewards, there are the justice questions of the exploitation of resources to benefit the few at the expense of the many. Even worse, the dire consequences of climate change are disproportionately borne by the developing world. Therefore we understand that environmental concerns should not tighten the shackles of poverty on the poor. But this cannot be used as an excuse by government not to act boldly at home and internationally. And we cannot tackle poverty and inequality without preserving our agricultural sector, our safe water, our food security, and so much more. If we let climate change destroy these, we will not only harm the poorest most; we will more than reverse any economic progress that we have made. We can also do far more to support better practice, to promote and extend recycling, to preserve biodiversity and to protect our water resources and our ecosystems.

We must raise our voices to ensure all this happens.

And yet, for all that we must make ourselves heard, sometimes we must stand up and be counted in silence.

Amos says, ‘the prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.’ Good Friday is such a time for standing silent. It is a day for saying ‘words are not enough’. Words are not enough for describing the human predicament – the terrible consequences that we face as a result of our actions, our choices, what we do and say, and what we fail to do and say. Words are not enough for describing human need for God’s grace, for God’s forgiveness and for God’s redemption, for this life and the life to come. And words are not enough for describing God’s love shown in Jesus Christ, who freely gave his life, so that we might know life, in all its abundance.

Therefore today we will walk in silence, as at the foot of the cross – overcome by the need in which we stand; and daring to try and grasp the enormity of what has been done to save us, by the one who says ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’

Amen

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easter Message

I wonder how many times you have heard the words ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen – we are risen, Alleluia!’ And while it may be too much to say that familiarity breeds contempt, nonetheless, those of us brought up in the Christian tradition tend to know these words so well that we are anaesthetised to their true force. We have got used to the idea that God did the impossible: a dead man was not merely resuscitated, to grow old and die again, but resurrected to the new life of heaven, of eternity – with the implication that though all of us must pass through death, death does not have the victorious final word. No, life can triumph over death, and if we put our hand in the hand of the living God, we can begin to experience what such triumph means, even this side of the grave.

This year, the enormity of the claims of Easter have struck me in a deeper way. In early March I spent five days in Haiti, almost overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy brought about by January’s earthquake. I encountered death and destruction that was almost impossible to grasp, even though it was before my very eyes. I cannot describe my emotions, seeing bodies trapped in buildings from which it was too dangerous to move them, feeling my nostrils fill with the stench of rotting flesh.

My purpose was to offer support to the Anglican Bishop and his people. Yet I found myself learning from their faith in the midst of such heartbreak. One afternoon Bishop Duracin showed us his lovely home, totally collapsed with all his possessions destroyed, and his car flattened. ‘It is gone, all gone’ he said. He wept, and I wept too, as he showed where his wife had been trapped (she was later flown to Florida for medical treatment and for weeks he was denied a visa to visit her). Then this brave man pointed to all he had lost and said ‘We still have to sing alleluia, for in the midst of this, Christ is risen.’

The Bishop, his clergy, his people, are proclaiming alleluia in they way they live now. They weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn, even as they preach that their dead are now safe in the eternally loving arms of God. And they act so that new life can begin now for those who are left. Church hospitals are again up and running – in massive marquees. New homes for the disabled have been found. Schools are operating in the tent cities. The church, feeling strengthened by God and his love, offers a purpose and direction that the government is failing to provide. This is what it means to be an Easter people – proclaiming life in word and deed, even in the face of death.

I find myself challenged by the Christians of Haiti, to consider whether I have become complacent in the midst of poverty, illness and death, crime, corruption, all that is destructive to our nations and their people. Do I, do we, have the courage to join them in being those who, no matter what difficulty we face, still proclaim in word and deed ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen – we are risen, Alleluia’?

I pray so, as I wish you all a blessed Easter.