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Coronavirus: Churches united in message of hope as Easter to be observed in lockdown

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Rt Rev John McDowell

Rt Rev John McDowell

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr William Henry

Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr William Henry

Rt Rev John McDowell

The devotion of healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the assurance of hope and light overcoming darkness, are some of the major themes of the church leaders' Easter messages.

The traditional statements are dominated by the current crisis, which has brought daily life here and elsewhere around the world to a halt.

On Easter Sunday, one of the key dates in the Christian calendar, churches here will stay shut.

In a joint statement Church of Ireland Archbishop-elect, the Rt Reverend John McDowell, and Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin speak powerfully of not giving up hope during the crisis.

They state: "In our present situation we have seen the light of the risen Christ shine out in the devotion and care shown by healthcare workers and others on the front line reaching out to help the sick; in the kindness shown by neighbour to neighbour and in gentle and simple acts of compassion carried out by countless 'Good Samaritans'.

"The Easter story begins in darkness, in a time of great fear, sorrow and despair. That description could very easily describe the world we have been living in for the last number of weeks as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken hold. What once was familiar has become unfamiliar, and we are now in so many ways cut off from our normal routine and way of living. Family and friends are isolated and kept apart, with doors closed to keep out an unseen enemy.

"Every day we search for good news and some sort of light upon the horizon. However, despite the uncertainty, suffering and grief caused by the pandemic, the Lord is near. We must never give up hope."

Presbyterian Moderator the Rt Reverend Dr William Henry also reflected on the times in which we are living, and spoke of hope.

He said: "We feel for those who have suffered and for all those who mourn the loss of loved ones prematurely.

"This anxiety is not purely related to illness, as the economy has been jolted and many are afraid for their livelihoods. Yet amidst these worries we are thankful for our healthcare workers and all those who continue to enable society to function at this critical time."

Methodist president the Reverend Sam McGuffin referred to three important aspects to this Easter weekend.

"The first is the celebration of Easter," he said. "We may be missing out on the usual celebration, but we could reflect on the story of Easter and try to let it help us to make some sense of what is happening in this coronavirus-riddled world."

He said the second thing is not to miss out connecting with other Christians, adding: "Let me encourage you to go online to your church's website, or one in the church nearest to you, or the website of a church you recently had connections with, and join the worship there.

"Thirdly, I hope that you won't miss out this Easter on an understanding of who Jesus Christ was and is."

Belfast Telegraph