Dear Friends in Christ,

Once again the Alleluia's ring out. Christ is risen! The grave is empty! Death is undone. A new creation has dawned.

At this, the world will object, especially now. How can we say such a thing, when the spilled blood is still fresh in Brussels, the memory of Paris is raw, the racial murders in Charleston are less than a year old? How can we say this to our own city, to families shattered by the violence in Wilkinsburg? The weight of grief is unbearable. The world both condemns the violence and adjusts to a new level of insecurity; we all prepare to live in the constant expectation that it will all happen again, though we do not know where or when.

And yet, the Alleluia's are not suppressed, not muted. Even at the grave we make our song.Christ is Risen! The New Creation has begun.

How can we make this claim, in the face of so much evidence to the contrary?

When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb of Jesus early on that Sunday morning, she lived in a world where death was always and inevitably the end. She came to acknowledge this incontrovertible fact by anointing and wrapping the body of her teacher and friend. She knew no other world. And even as she looked into the empty tomb, she could not imagine another world.

And by the end of the morning, the world was changed.

Jesus of Nazareth, this teacher, this friend, appeared to her, transformed and yet clearly himself- not a ghost, or a hologram, not merely a resuscitated corpse. She knew it was he. And she told others.

And God was not putting on a private show, just for her. Others saw him, too: other women, and the men also, first the Ten, then Thomas. The saying went around like wildfire: The Lord has risen! It is still going around today.

Yes, there will still be blood in the streets. There will be senseless deaths and terrible injustices. But in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, in the face of every human agony, God has declared two things.

First: All is forgiven. There is now no need to sacrifice another, or murder yourself, in satisfaction for any wrong, real or imagined. The Lamb has been offered. The debt is paid. Receive this word and live.

Second: Love is stronger than death. What Mary saw, and knew to be true, is still true.

We who bear the name of Christ have seen this new life in us, as God has raised us from our own graves of wrong and hopelessness. In the face of the world's insistence that bloodshed and fear are the new normal, we are the evidence to the contrary, bearers of mercy, physicians of love, witnesses to the new creation. 

May we so walk in the world that, as others see and hear us, they may also believe the Lord is risen, and the world is changed.

Faithfully your bishop,

(The Rt. Rev.) Dorsey W.M. McConnell, D.D.

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