Greetings from Father James L. Ward and peace from God be with you!

The message of Easter tide often gets lost amidst the fancy finery, the massive platters of ham, the chocolate bunnies and the dyed eggs. Like other religious celebrations overshadowed by secular commercialism, we sometimes forget the reason behind all the holiday hoopla.

But for Christians around the world, Easter represents the most sacred of times, the day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead to save us from our sins. Easter represents new beginnings. Resurrection. Hope. Not politically clichéd hope, but real hope. And during these troubled times when sometimes the good news seems in short supply, we desperately want — and need — hope. As Anglican priests, Canon Marts and I find Easter is a perfect opportunity to lift our congregation up and refill their spiritual tanks.

The Gospel reading for Easter Day in our Book of Common Prayer from John 20: 1-10 rings true for our troubled times. It’s very interesting that the Gospel for Easter tells us that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in the dark; that is a bit of a symbol for us, that predawn darkness. Many times we talk about our own predicament, when we’re looking for Jesus but we’re still in darkness. Since the central aspect of our faith is that Jesus rose from the dead, we too are invited to look for Jesus and to find him in that intersection of darkness and light. Everything that goes on in the world we characterize as darkness, and the light that shines through that darkness is Jesus.

As priests the Canon and I encourage our congregants not to hide and keep the good news to themselves, but to engage themselves in the world. We urge them not to let the darkness of the world overwhelm them and to reflect God’s light where they can. Judgment is not love and judging the world’s problems won’t get us anywhere. Loving your neighbor – even the ones who are hard to love – will get us somewhere.

Christ’s resurrection frees us from worrying about the future; it allows us to live in the present and to serve one another as He would serve us.

With our congregants struggling over such issues as the economy, terrorism and the political direction of the country it is more important than ever to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice and the lessons of the cross: humility, suffering and death. What many people miss about the cross is that it is really about suffering: dying to self and giving ourselves away. As a priest I really want to try to anchor people to the Word trying hard to help them embrace their faith in Christ and help them see that even though the world is going to be tough, our God is tougher.

At this Easter time we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And we remember what He told his disciples: to go out and be fruitful and to love one another. You talk to most Anglicans and they know where their hope comes from, not from the media or the government, but from the Lord. This is a time for people to celebrate and come together and realize there is hope. He rose for a reason and that reason is so that we can have abundant hope for eternal life.

Here’s wishing you and your family hope. And lots of it. Happy Easter.