Dawn baptisms at Durham Cathedral
(Photo: Keith Blundy)
Five newcomers to the faith were baptised at the crack of dawn on Easter Day at Durham Cathedral.
The five candidates were then confirmed along with twenty other candidates from churches across the diocese by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler.
The Service of New Light took place as the sun began to rise on Easter Day and is often called the Dawn Vigil, symbolising the point at which it is proclaimed that Christ is risen and his new light is cast on the world to lift it from its darkness.
It was Bishop Butler's first Easter Day service since being enthroned as Bishop of Durham in February.
In his sermon, he remembered those in difficulty and experiencing pain or hardship, both in the UK and in places of conflict like the Central African Republic and Syria.
"We live in a world where there is much fear. So too on the streets of our communities like Jarrow, Hartlepool, Stockton, Sunderland, Easington and the farms of the Dales there are people who live with deep fears," he said.
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"Fears of domestic abuse and violence; fears of long term illness; fears of failing to be able to heat the home and feed the children adequately; fears of no job on leaving school or college; fears of loneliness and hopelessness."
The answer to personal fears, he continued, was to be found in the risen Christ.
"The risen Jesus speaks into all these situations; offering hope of overcoming failure, defeat, death. He offers hope of renewal and resurrection where all seems lost and gone for ever," he said.
"We live in a world where many are caught up in lives of fear. Fear that restricts and holds people back from living full lives. But there is a fear that takes us forward; it is the 'fear of the Lord'.
"This is not being afraid of God but it is, in Eugene Peterson's words, 'living responsively and appropriately before who God is, who he is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.'
"It is living the life of the risen one with both fear and great joy. May we do so and walk in the newness of resurrection life."