Friday 29 March 2024

NI church leaders use Easter messages to call for hope against injustice

Easter Concert and Paschal Fire at Parliament Buildings - The United  Diocese of Down And Dromore (Church of Ireland - Anglican/Episcopal)

Church leaders have emphasised hope in times of darkness and injustice in their Easter messages.

Presbyterian Moderator Dr Sam Mawhinney reflected on the grievances of the sub-postmaster scandal highlighted by the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office. 

Stating how he believes “the best dramas are those based on true-life events”, he said: “Its themes of injustice and guilt and how lives are destroyed by these realities resonated deeply.

“The story pictured for many the despair they feel at the difficulties and injustices faced in life, highlighted the disconnect between the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor, as it portrayed the frustration and anger at the lack of accountability and leadership of those tasked to lead us.”

Dr Mawhinney also highlighted that Easter brings hope, fighting the despair many of us feel with the direction that society seems to be going in.

He said: “A lack of concern for others, the existential threats of war and climate change, the growing divide and inequality between rich and poor, relentless change and growing extremism, persecution of people of faith, and a challenge to Christian values at home.

“As the world becomes darker, I am increasingly confident of the confidence that we can have in Jesus, and I want to draw you to another story that is incredible, unbelievable even, but is our only hope and confidence.

“A light in the darkness, forgiveness from guilt, hope in despair and life in death. It is of course the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

In Armagh, Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell issued a joint message.

They said: “This time last year, when we marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, we asked people to remember what a significant and gracious achievement that was.

“Among its many virtues it carried the message of reconciliation and held out the promise of a truly reconciled society in Northern Ireland and within the totality of relationships across these islands.

“One year on, rather than simply re-emphasising the message of reconciliation, we prefer — in all humility and admitting our own failings — to call Christians, and all people of goodwill, to the ministry of reconciliation.

“Reconciliation is not merely an optional extra to the work of peacemaking; it is an imperative — an essential duty and service.

“We are thankful these days for having recently witnessed in Northern Ireland ‘a little resurrection’ of certain institutions, which in themselves are necessary but which in reality are impotent things without the ministry of reconciliation which we each hold in our hands.”

All the churches will have a range of services over the weekend to celebrate the season.Early morning services on Easter Sunday will be even earlier than usual, however, as the clocks go forward at 1am.

On Good Friday, Dr Heather Morris, Methodist General Secretary, will be speaking during a three-hour service in St Anne’s Cathedral from noon.St Anne’s will hold their Easter Vigil at 8pm on Saturday night, and Easter Morning Eucharist will start at 11am on Sunday.

St Peter’s Cathedral will have their Easter Vigil at 9pm on Saturday and start Mass at 10am on Sunday which will be broadcast live on Radio Ulster.

The Presbyterian Church is hosting dawn services throughout Ireland, with venues and times available at