The Bishop's Easter Message 2016


"We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." -- From Paul's Letter to the Romans (6:9-11) and the Epistle lesson at the Great Vigil of Easter
The most powerful moment of the whole year happens for me at the Great Vigil of Easter when the Celebrant bellows, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" and the People reply even louder, "The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!" (The liturgy for the Great Vigil of Easter can be found in The Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer on pages 285-295).
We make our cry every year at Easter.  We assert the impossible.  We affirm the amazing.  We assert with Paul that death has no power. We do not need to be afraid.
The Great Vigil of Easter tells the whole story of the Christian life. 
In his book Take the Plunge: Living Baptism and Confirmation (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012), Timothy Radcliffe (a Dominican Priest), reflects on the meaning of the new fire at the Great Vigil when he writes:
"What are our eyes opened to see? When the bonfire is lit at the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the first thing we see are human faces: faces turned towards the light; perhaps the faces of children excited to be up in the middle of the night, amused faces as the priest struggles to light the paschal candle without self-immolation, nervous faces wondering what they are doing here. There are familiar faces and the faces of strangers. It seems obvious that these are the faces of people like us, with the same dignity, subject to the same emotions, touched by the same fears and hopes. But David Bentley Hart argues that one of the extraordinary victories of Christianity, arguably anticipated in the Old Testament, was that it shone a light on the humanity of ordinary people. In the pagan world, most human beings - above all slaves, women and foreigners - were not considered to be fully human. They did not have human faces."
Gathered in the darkness, we tell death to go to hell.  We tell a world that wants to divide human beings and label them, to go to hell.  There is no room for fear and anger.  There is no need for walls to divide. Because of Christ, we know that every human being has dignity. We can truly understand that there are no outcasts in God's family.  There are no strangers if we believe we are alive to God in Christ Jesus.  It changes the way we see the world and every other human being.  We do not need to be afraid.
While I wish the Saturday night Great Vigil of Easter liturgy were the most attended service of the Church year (bigger certainly than the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve), I know Easter Sunday morning will have more folk in the pews of most of the churches.  It will be in the darkness of the night before that story will be retold, the cold tomb will be opened and new life revealed by the flickering flame of the Paschal candle. That light shines just as well in the brightness of the sun on Easter morning. 
I pray that the light of Christ shines throughout the Diocese of Hawai'i this Easter! 

The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick

Bishop Diocesan 
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i
229 Queen Emma Square
Honolulu, HI  96813-2304

The Episcopal Church in Micronesia
911 North Marine Corps Drive
Upper Tumon, Guam  96913

HE LANAKILA MA KE KEʻA:  Victory through the Cross