The recent meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion was held at Dromantine, near Newry, Northern Ireland, in a Roman Catholic retreat centre. It is in a beautiful part of the country with the centre being well set back from the road and surrounded by rolling hills and a peaceful pond. You have probably heard and read much of what happened but a part of the story that has not been told involves a magnificent set of white marble Stations of the Cross located outdoors. The Stations of the Cross, or the Way of the Cross as it is sometimes known, is an adaptation of the custom observed by pilgrims to Jerusalem of offering prayers at places in the city traditionally associated with the passion and death of Jesus. They number fourteen in total with eight being directly based on gospel texts and six on inferences from the gospels or pious legends.
In Ireland I came upon them by myself one early morning. I traced the path, in the footsteps of Christ, as he walked in love to Calvary. It was a very moving experience.
To the entire world Good Friday looked like the end — there was death and nothing else. It looked bleak, without promise and devoid of life.
On Easter Sunday morning a different story was told. Peter and John raced to the tomb. They could not get there fast enough to experience what God had in store – new life, hope, joy and resurrection. They were overcome with the magnificence of life restored. God was present in their lives.
Our own journey of life may find us still walking the Way of the Cross. Many people carry burdens of anxiety, frustration, depression or sin. Some have even suggested that our Anglican Church, or even the whole Communion, is at the moment of death and words like bleak, and without life, are used to describe us.
I think not.
We are an Easter people and have the gift of hope. As I have the privilege of travelling this country I see many signs that the Church is experiencing a new found strength and determination. The commitment to the Gospel is high and people are sharing the good news of hope by their words and actions. I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead with the evidence being seen in the lives of his followers.
None of us knows how the future will unfold. We are called not to success but to faithfulness. Our need is to run to the tomb to find life out of death joy out of pain and the knowledge that God is very much alive. Alleluia!
Andrew S. Hutchison
Archbishop and Primate
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