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Sacrifice of low-paid key workers acknowledged by church leaders


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The heads of the four main churches in Northern Ireland also acknowledged the sacrifice of healthcare staff and efforts of low-paid workers in the past year

The heads of the four main churches in Northern Ireland also acknowledged the sacrifice of healthcare staff and efforts of low-paid workers in the past year

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The heads of the four main churches in Northern Ireland also acknowledged the sacrifice of healthcare staff and efforts of low-paid workers in the past year

Church leaders have highlighted the victorious and positive nature of Easter hope in their seasonal messages.

The heads of the four main churches in Northern Ireland also acknowledged the sacrifice of healthcare staff and efforts of low-paid workers in the past year.

In a joint statement, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell and his Catholic counterpart, Archbishop Eamon Martin acknowledged the "hidden service" of many people during the pandemic.

"It has been a tough year since last Easter, and many people, Christians and others, have found ways of making the best of a bad job by helping one another in ways that we haven't been used to doing before," they said.

"We've also found ways to show our appreciation and admiration for people who we don't usually think about. They aren't sports people, or billionaires or even politicians. They are nurses and delivery drivers and people toiling in cavernous warehouses and food factories for very low wages. People who serve the fundamental needs of God's world.

"And, in its own way their hidden service is a shadow of the resurrection life; the life of heaven, God's place. Our sure and certain hope," they added.

Referencing the notion of "clasping hands, embracing and seeing faces beaming", Methodist President Rev Dr Thomas McKnight said that once again this Easter, "we can do none of those things".

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Dr McKnight added: "Good Friday, when we consider and meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus, is a time to contemplate death, suffering, and sacrifice -things we now often put out of our minds. For so much of our recent history, death has seemed alien, while suffering has meant a bad cold, and sacrifice meant giving up golf to take the children to the cinema. Covid-19 has changed all this.

"We see the suffering of those on ventilators or with a cough that will not stop. We see the sacrifice of healthcare workers who have risked so much to work in Covid wards. And we feel surrounded by death - so much death that we almost become numb to it, as we see the numbers continually rising on the right of our television screens.

"But Easter reminds us that suffering and death are not the end, and that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross leads to resurrection, not just for Jesus, but for all who trust in him," he said.

Presbyterian Moderator, Dr David Bruce recounted a conversation with a sceptical friend about what Easter means. His friend questioned if the resurrection of Jesus, that first Easter, actually happened at all, or was it a kind of metaphor?

Dr Bruce said "the record shows that Jesus did the apparently impossible", adding that the New Testament makes a shattering claim that Jesus was physically raised from the dead, a miracle witnessed and accounted for by not only his disciples, but hundreds of other people.

While Good Friday marked the moment of Jesus' supposed 'failure' as a would-be Messiah, Easter Sunday changed everything, as "Jesus, now alive, became a beacon of hope for sinful people everywhere," he said.

"The vaccines give us some hope that soon it might end. Our ultimate hope is not through an injection in our arms, but through the extraordinary act of love through which Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them…'," Dr Bruce added.


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