Archbishop of Canterbury urges Christians to be 'witnesses to hope'


The Archbishop of Canterbury warned people not to succumb to fear caused by the Belgian terrorist attacks, which is a sign of a "world at war with itself, of faiths at each other's throats".

The Most Rev Justin Welby told his Easter Sunday sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, that although the world is shocked by the week's events, Easter is a chance to trust in God.

He said: "In the shadow of Brussels, with the memory of Srebrenica, hope can seem far far away. People here will feel hope has faded because of illness, bereavement, unemployment, money worries, family breakdown. When hope fails, fear draws close, and whispers sly deceits in our minds.

"On Easter Day hope decisively overcame fear and Christians are called to be witnesses to the hope that is found only in Jesus Christ."

He continued: "Fear is reasonable, a normal human reaction. This week has shocked all of us, and risks causing us to act fearfully, to see a world in which fear triumphs. Easter proclaims to us in flesh and blood that fear and death and terror are not the last words. God has spoken life, hope and purpose.

"Terror speaks of a world at war with itself, of faiths at each others' throats. Jesus Christ reaches out not in exclusion but in embrace. This is the feast of the victory of God, and we celebrate in the midst of darkness, by our worship and praise shining an unquenchable light."

Drawing on the story of the crucifixion and resurrection, he said: "When the whole stream of events flows the wrong way then it is hard to endure, hard to trust the victory of God. That is the reality for so many. There is a sense of the emptiness of life, of a spiral of decline. Life may get better occasionally, but only to get worse. Darkness falls, the morning may come, but then another night.

"So it was for the women who had endured everything with Jesus. They had seen miracles. They had shared his rejection and his hardships. They had walked the roads with him. They had experienced Palm Sunday and the cleansing of the Temple. Bright dawn had broken, new hope blossomed. Now it was gone. Many will identify with that.

"It is not only through events that there is temptation to cynical despair, losing sight of the reality of purpose and achievement which is the gift of God's creation."