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Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

‘While it was still dark’, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb. It was dark inside her. All hope had gone. Her dreams were shattered. Yet in her grief she goes to the tomb to complete the burial rituals that had begun at the close of Good Friday. It was still dark.

This Easter Sunday it feels dark; becoming darker. The darkness spread by the unseen Coronavirus. The darkness spread by spoken and unspoken fears. The darkness of job losses. The darkness of not being able to see family and friends. The darkness of the unknown.

It is Easter morning it should feel light and bright. It should be filled with excitement and joy. But, this Easter it feels rather that Good Friday and Holy Saturday are more than lingering on.

When Mary reached the tomb. It was still dark. She had no idea how they would move the stone that sealed the tomb. She wondered if they would complete the embalming of Jesus’ body with their spices. The stone was rolled away. But, it was still dark. The body was gone. Someone has removed, perhaps stolen the body. Darkness deepened. Even the dignity of caring for the dead was taken away.

This Easter there is so much pain caused by restrictions on funerals; on how many, and who, can attend. There is the pain of family not being able to be by the bedside as a loved one dies. No ability to hold their hand, say the last ‘I love you’. It is dark.

One word from the apparent stranger in the garden turns Mary’s darkness to light; ‘Mary’. She recognises the voice – only one person called her that way. It is the Lord. It’s confusing; it’s astonishing; it’s unbelievable – and yet He is there. Jesus is alive; risen from the tomb. Death is defeated. The dawn has arrived.

In our darkness there is hope. In our time of uncertainty and in the midst of our fears; there is hope. Light dawns. It is Easter Day. Whether or not it feels like it. Whether or not we can grasp it, it is Easter Day. Jesus Christ is risen. Risen indeed. This living Jesus is with us still; present amidst our sadness, fear and uncertainty. Today, Easter Day, the risen Jesus calls every one of us by name. He says to us all, ‘Peace be with you.’


Loving God,

On this Easter day we are struggling with our fears, our sadness, and our uncertainties. Thank you that the risen Jesus met the disciples personally on that great resurrection day. Meet with us. Call us by name. Speak into our hearts and lives your peace.


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