Belfast Telegraph

Archbishop's message of hope as Easter sermons are held across the world

By Staff Reporter

The religious significance of Easter Sunday was marked by services across the world yesterday.

In the UK the Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to bring "restoration and hope" to a world where "evil" still exists.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told his congregation at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, that in the face of "pain and despair, grief and death", people should remember the words "Do not be afraid".

He referred to the attacks in Egypt which killed more than 40 people in churches in Alexandria and Tanta last week.

In his sermon he said: "Everything we are and own and see is to be lived, and held and understood through the resurrection. But be under no illusion, this is utterly counter to how the world runs itself, and so we live in the now of a world in which the resurrection has happened, and the not yet of a world where there is still evil."

The Archbishop said the Christians in Egypt, whom he said live surrounded by bombs and terror, were in his thoughts.

"We and those we love know the grim, grey moments of illness, suffering, arguments, poverty, ill health, mental and physical, prison, guilt and failure. We experience a world of pain and despair, grief and death. But the words Jesus says on that first Easter day he says to you and me now; 'Do not be afraid'.

"These things overshadow our lives because we fear they may have the last word. These things lie, they deceive, they pretend to have power that they do not have, when they say they are final. There is only one finality, Jesus the crucified one is alive. In the hard journeys we all face, in every moment of loss, the community of witnesses to the resurrection must come alongside and, with love and gentleness, bring restoration and hope."

In Rome, tens of thousands of faithful endured heavy security checks to hear Pope Francis celebrate Easter Sunday Mass at St Peter's Square in the Vatican. Security included armed police positioned on rooftops and the use of metal detectors.

Many more tourists, pilgrims and Romans flocked to the cobblestone square, decorated with colourful spring flowers, to hear Francis deliver the "Urbi et Orbi" -his Easter message "to the city and to the world" - from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined the Queen for an Easter service at Windsor Castle for the first time.

Dozens of people waiting outside the chapel clapped as the 90-year-old monarch arrived, and afterwards she was handed posies of flowers by two schoolgirls who live in the fortress.

The Right Reverend David Conner, Dean of Windsor, led the congregation and prayed for the Queen to "always be a source of strength and inspiration to her people".

In Northern Ireland, a number of early morning Easter Sunday services took place. In Lisburn, a number of city centre churches united for a dawn service held at the bandstand in Wallace Park. The service was led by the Rev Michael Davidson, who is Minister of Railway Street Presbyterian Church, while the address was given by Mr Jamie Maguire, Assistant Minister of Railway Street Presbyterian Church.

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