Presidential Easter Message
24 March 2016
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist
Conference have reminded people of the central Easter message of
hope, passion and joy in the midst of despair.
- You can listen to the Easter messages here
Dr Jill Barber said: "This Easter we share Christ's tears
for our world in all its pain. For children drowned fleeing from
the unimaginable horrors of war. For unaccompanied children in the
jungle at Calais,
"The Easter message is one of ... life from death, love stronger
than hate. At the moment of utter darkness, the light of the risen
Christ breaks through."
The Revd Steven Wild added: "This Easter, with joy and
love, may we all cry Hallelujah and encounter the risen
Click here to listen to the messages in full,
or see below for the full texts.
The Vice-President's Message:
The image that fills my mind this Easter is Jesus weeping over
Jerusalem. Jesus longs to gather us as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings, but do we want to be saved? When we see the news,
it seems we are set on a path to our own destruction.
Ann Carr, one of the early women preachers, was sent to Leeds as
a missionary in 1821, to work among the very poor. The majority
were women, migrants from the countryside, desperate to find work
in the textile industry. Lonely and lost. Displaced from home and
family. Young single women, 'fallen women', widows.
In seeking to share the good news, Ann found that the hymns of
the time didn't use images that related to women's experience. With
Martha Williams, she founded the Female Revivalist Methodists and
produced their own hymn book, adapting the words of traditional
hymns, and writing their own. They gave women a voice.
Seen through the eyes and hearts of the women who were first at
the tomb on Sunday morning, I find some of the Easter hymns
particularly moving. 'Bring the sweet spices of your sight, Your
contrite hearts and streaming eyes, Your sad complaints and humble
fears! Come, and embalm him with your tears.' 'Mary - know thy
Saviour's voice, Hear it and reply, My Lord!' 'Happy Magdalene, to
whom Christ the Lord vouchsafed to appear.' 'What a change his word
can make, Turning darkness into day; Ye who weep for Jesu's sake,
He will wipe your tears away.'
This Easter we share Christ's tears for our world in all its
pain. For children drowned fleeing from the unimaginable horrors of
war. For unaccompanied children in the jungle at Calais. For all
those caught up in the bewildering cycle of seemingly endless
violence, in which it is not even clear who is fighting whom.
Amongst it all we rejoice in signs of hope.
I rejoice in a group of friends, calling themselves the
Worldwide Tribe, who decided to go to Calais to stand alongside the
migrants in the Jungle. 'They can use force, be inhumane and cruel
… We will respond with love. We will meet their ruthlessness with
openness. We will accept their brutality with dignity … We will
stand in solidarity, as brothers and sisters of the world. We will
peacefully and gracefully continue towards equality. We will work
together, side by side, as one community of international citizens.
Violence, fear and oppression will never win.'
The Easter message is one of hope in the midst of despair, life
from death, love stronger than hate. At the moment of utter
darkness, the light of the risen Christ breaks through.
The President's Message:
After the Lenten fast, which with study and prayer has brought
us closer to our Lord, we experience Holy Week with all the riches
of the story so well known yet always fresh. As I've travelled, I'm
thrilled that so many churches now make a Lenten cross out of the
main trunk of the Christmas tree and decorate it with all the
different symbols. There are so many resources to help us these
days in our journey of discipleship.
But the glory of Easter is unsurpassed. The cry of all
Christians to shout 'Hallelujah' is our birthright. We want and
need more of the resurrection power and joy in the Church. Luke
recording the early days of Christianity says of the first
believers 'With great power the apostles continued to testify to
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so
powerfully at work in them all' - Acts 4:33.
This time last year I had the great privilege of going to
Portugal and being on a Holy Week mission with Bishop Sifredo and
meeting our Methodist sisters and brothers in that beautiful
country. We did many exciting outreach initiatives. On Easter Day I
was at Aveiro Methodist Church, a thrilling place to be. We passed
by a large Roman Catholic procession, children in white and the
bright sun gleaming on the banners.
We Methodists are small in comparison, but each church member
was invited to bring a person to Easter breakfast and the hall was
full when I arrived and shared in a very hearty breakfast. The
worship band and singers enabled us to worship in the glory of the
risen Christ and I preached on Mary's encounter with the risen Lord
- challenging the congregation to meet with him too. The silver
chalices and beautiful loaf were uncovered on the table.
I had an interpreter and so my words could have been
misunderstood, but I held half the bead and said: "If you want a
living relationship with the risen Christ take and eat". At which
point a blonde young woman got up in her pew walked down the aisle
and dug into the bread weeping. She pushed the bread down her
It's the strongest reaction I've ever known to someone wanting
to encounter the triumphant Jesus.
A Methodist President and brilliant speaker of years past, the
Revd Dr William Sangster, was found by his wife one Easter morning
weeping. He had muscular atrophy and could not speak.
She said: "Why are you crying Will?" He wrote on a piece of paper:
'It is Easter Day and I cannot say: "Hallelujah"'.
This Easter, with joy and love, may we all cry Hallelujah and
encounter the risen Lord.