All three Bishops for The Church of England in Lancashire have written and recorded their Easter messages for 2020.
Please note that, as the coronavirus outbreak continues, the messages have been recorded during lockdown this year using Zoom software or iPhone.
In their messages all the Bishops reflect on the impact of the virus in different ways, while at the same time exploring what Easter means for each one of us.
Full text of the message also follows and it can also be downloaded here in pdf and Word format for printing:
During the current Coronavirus crisis my attention was caught by a headline on the BBC online news: ‘Coming 5000 miles to die for the NHS’.
It told the story of two doctors from Sudan, who had been in the UK and worked for the NHS for many years, but who had contracted the coronavirus and died because of their contact with the virus in hospital. At the time of recording five other NHS staff have also died.
That huge workforce of committed men and women are showing an extraordinary level of dedication and care, risking their own lives every time they go in to work and all out of concern for others. Even those who have not got the virus, but who are having to stay away from work because someone in their household has the virus and they have to isolate for 14 days, are keen and eager to return to the danger of the frontline.
The applause at 8pm each Thursday around the nation says a lot about the appreciation the majority feel for such unselfish dedication and sacrifice.
The two Sudanese doctors came 5000 miles to serve and died as a result.
Sacrifice always attracts admiration from others who see it or hear about it, whether that is health workers, or the many others who are continuing to work during this lock down. Human suffering raises in us a sense of duty to play our part
A dying soldier in 1917, later awarded a VC, sent a message to his fiancé, saying: duty calls and duty must be obeyed.
Such an attitude, and the headline I mentioned earlier, catches my attention because they point to the greatest sacrifice ever made, which is the focus for many at this time of year.
Jesus came not 5000 miles but from heaven to earth, facing the risk of entering this world and of being rejected, but doing so deliberately to give His life that in turning to Him anyone might find forgiveness and receive the gift of eternal life.
You might well ask, was there not a simpler way? Couldn’t God have just declared an amnesty and avoided all the anguish of Holy Week and Good Friday and the darkness of Holy Saturday?
There had to be a human being who had lived a perfect life and had defeated all the temptations of Satan for the sacrifice to be (as we are reminded in the service of Holy Communion) a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
Only God Himself could do that. And only God Himself would be able to triumph over the grave, defeat death and remove its sting. There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. Only He could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.
What Jesus achieved through His death and resurrection could not have been won in any other way by any other person.
That’s why Holy Week and Easter are so special for the Christian community. We celebrate the eternal salvation that God has won for all who put their trust in Him. No-one need be excluded.
A book I read recently told the story of a man in another part of the world who was desperate to share this good news about Jesus Christ with those who had never heard it. In one conversation those listening became quite upset with him, saying: “If you believe this message to be true for all people, where have you been? Why haven’t you come before?”
As I wish you a happy Easter, it is my prayer that even in our lockdown isolation we may find hope in what Jesus Christ has done for us.
That we may give Him the praise He is due for His sacrifice for us and seek to pass on the message about His death and resurrection to those around us and in these days of the internet … to those who may be 5000 miles away.
Alleluia, Christ is risen
He is risen indeed, Alleluia.
Rt Rev Julian Henderson
Bishop of Blackburn
Ronnie Semley, April 2020