Easter is about the unexpected return of love, vanquishing evil and death, Bishop Martin says in his Easter Message this year.
“When we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we are celebrating the power of love overcoming the power of violence, hatred and fear. We think immediately of Ukraine, but it is not just there, but in other parts of the world, and in our own communities where lives have been torn apart by violence, hatred and fear,” said Bishop Martin Seeley.
"And as we do think of Ukraine, and the terrible images and accounts that are coming out of the tragic conflict we see the very opposite of love in the horrifying and brutalising attacks. Hope is shattered in scenes of missile attacks on blocks of flats, on homes and families. Hope has been swept aside by an ambition driven by ideology and fuelled by a narrative of threat and fear. But love returns, and it will always return. That is what Easter means. We have seen the signs already,” he said.
“President Zelensky, far from popular before the invasion, has emerged as a symbol and voice of hope and determination for his people. The people of Ukraine have given care and support for each other, reaching across distance and difference to bind up wounds and comfort the grieving. The people of Europe, including the people of Suffolk, have reached out to provide care and homes for those fleeing the terror. And of course there are signs of love in Russia itself, with people risking their own safety by speaking out against the war. So signs of love are returning, emerging from the anguish and destruction, and we long to see more signs, in Ukraine and in Russia. We connect with these signs; they inspire us and encourage us.
"They resonate for us because they speak to us of what endures, what really lasts, vanquishing evil and death, however potent they may seem right now. They speak to us of Easter, of God’s reality, God’s truth where suffering and death are never the last word. Love’s return is unexpected because love was tortured and killed. But our picture of love is so often devoid of suffering and pain, a picture of something that may look sweet, but would never survive any sort of struggle. That is not the love revealed at Easter, a love that risked all, and returned scarred but victorious".
"We have been living in the light of this astounding turn of events ever since those first men and women found themselves following Jesus, and so found purpose, peace, and love. Ever since those first followers then found their hopes and dreams shattered into fragments by Jesus’ arrest, trial, and condemnation to execution. Ever since the first Good Friday and Jesus’ death nailed to a wooden cross. Ever since those men and women went early on Sunday morning to dress his dead body, to find that, incredibly, he had been raised from death. The return of love, vindicated, the victor in a battle love was sure to lose. And when we look at our lives, and look back at the life of the world, we see this same pattern over and over again. Just as for those first disciples, something happens that dashes the hope, and the dreams that hope carried. And yet then mysteriously, unexpectedly, at some point something happens that lifts us out of the dejection, disappointment and despair. Love has returned".
"It can be hard to recognise, in the parts of the world and our in own lives where evil seems to have the upper hand, where suffering and death seem to have the last word. But Easter means the power of evil has been overcome. Love will always have the last word.”
Picture: The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese who is among so many opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees, pictured at his home in Ipswich. Photography by Keith Mindham.