Easter 2014: World may be hurting but God has not abandoned it - Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin WelbyAP

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of his hope in the power of the Christian faith to heal divisions and bring lasting peace to communities afflicted by pain and suffering.

In his ecumenical Easter letter, Archbishop Justin Welby reminded the faithful that the presence of hardship in the world is not a sign that God has abandoned it.

He spoke particularly of South Sudan, where an estimated 900,000 people have been forced from their homes as a result of fighting.

"Looking at the world during these times of growing conflict and the challenges of a changing context, we are acutely aware of a sense of helplessness," he said.

However, he noted other instances of instability and suffering brought on by natural disasters, climate change and poverty, and spoke of his special concern for the impact on children.

There is also the "continuing traumatic experiences of Christians and other suffering people, particularly in the Middle East", he continued.

He also reminded believers of their interconnectedness, whether in hardship or ease, saying that even those living in safety and comfort are "duty bound" to pray for their brothers and sisters living in threatening conditions, saying they needed the "assurance that they are not alone and will not be forgotten".

"Religious freedom is being curbed in many parts of the world and human rights trampled upon. And the Ukraine is likely to remain an area of tension for some time to come," he said.

"Against all this, as Christians we take courage from the victory won in the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

"The letter to the Ephesians reminds us that although the world is divided and unjust, God has not abandoned it, nor ever will. God has given Christ all dominion, power and authority and has through Christ raised and made us his co-workers.

"Christ represents the fullness of the church and he is our peace. Through him dividing walls of hostility between people are broken down. Through him there is a new humanity, a new reality.

"With him we will be knitted together into one body. Principalities and powers of this world will be called to reason and obedience to God, not in a struggle for power but for truth."

He added: "Our own insecurities and concerns set alongside the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters will strengthen the realisation that we need each other."

The Archbishop rounded off his letter with a call to Christians everywhere to make every effort to "live in this global awareness of friendship" and draw others close by offering friendship and hospitality "for Christ's sake".

"The Good News is that we are embraced by God in the risen Christ as friends in his kingdom; we are grafted into the stem, intimately joined with the Source of our being and raised to new life in Christ," he concluded.

"I pray therefore that our Christian hope and the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ will heal relationships between individuals, communities and nations, banish fear, overcome suffering and broker peace, that the dawn may come.

"It is in this spirit that I greet you and close this Easter letter with a doxology and an ascription of praise.

"'Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.'"

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