Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Last year, just twelve months ago, we were spending our Easter in lockdown. It was an anxious and uncertain time.
The days and months that followed were dark and tumultuous for many people both here and around the world. Now, just twelve months later, we have the extraordinary privilege again of spending an Easter in relative freedom.
It is not the same for all nations. Many people have lost their lives to this virus. Many are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic. How blessed we are to be living in countries where the Covid response has been effective.
This is due in no small part to the tireless and thankless work of our frontline health workers, our border and MIQ workers, our essential service workers, our volunteer and community workers, our elders, our ministers, our leaders and fellow servants. There can be no doubt that without them the pandemic in our countries would have been much, much worse.
Those that have served and saved us deserve all our gratitude and thanks, our acknowledgement and support. Because of them the anxiety and uncertainty we felt can now be replaced with a little more hope and a lot more freedom. They have shown us what it truly means to love your neighbour. They are to us what love should look like. They are God's love made real.
At the heart of the story of Easter is that same love. God's love, made real in Jesus Christ. In dark and tumultuous times Jesus responded by putting his faith in the greatest power that he knew: God's love made real. The story of Easter teaches us that we can respond the same way, with the same great power.
Where others are cruel, we can be kind. Where others are hurtful, we can seek to heal. Where others choose to be bitter and resentful, we can choose to love. We can be God's love made real in deeds and action.
As far as we have come, our pandemic journey is still not over. We need to be vigilant and continue to protect ourselves and others from Covid. We urge all of you to receive the Covid vaccine when it is available. Health professionals assure us that these vaccines are very safe and very effective. There will be vaccinations available for everyone. There is no need for you to miss out. Getting vaccinated is the best action you can take to protect yourself and others.
Being kind is the best action that you can take to support others through the pandemic. And what is kindness if not love made real through action?
We encourage you to have faith. But as the Bible says, faith without works is futile.
You don't need prayer to remove dirt from your hands. You can use soap and water. You don't need a spiritual forcefield to help protect you from infection. You can wear a mask and maintain social distancing. You don't need to hide behind the Bible to find immunity from Covid. You can get a vaccination. That's what faith combined with works looks like. That's what love can look like when it's made real.
This Easter, in this part of our pandemic journey, we hope that your faith will be renewed and that God's love will continue to be made real in your life. Made real through the good and kind deeds of others. Made real through your own compassionate actions.
May God's love - real, and active, and caring, and kind - continue to sustain you and keep you through all the days ahead.
Nā mātou nei,
Archbishop Don Tamihere (Pīhopa o Aotearoa)
Archbishop Philip Richardson (Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses)
Archbishop Fereimi Cama (Bishop of Polynesia)