05 April 2007

Easter message from the President of the Methodist Conference

The Revd Graham Carter, President of the Methodist Conference offers his thoughts this Easter:

'Easter is about celebrating life Ð but not a self-centred, 'let me be fulfilled at all costs' kind of life. It's about the life that does not depend upon wealth or power or status, but the kind of life that comes from the experience of the cross, that is, the experience of self-giving love that goes on giving, whatever the cost.

'During my presidential year I have experienced the immense generosity of poor people in various parts of the world. It has been embarrassing to receive gifts from people who are the poorest I have ever met. I have experienced God's grace in acts of pure generosity and come away with my understanding of life deepened.

'Some time ago, when I was working with BBC Radio Merseyside, I had the opportunity of an interview with Jon Sobrino, one time colleague of Archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in El Salvador while saying mass. He told me that those of us in the wealthy part of the world should not be paternalistic in our giving to charity, but learn that we had as much to receive from the poor as we had to give to them. This is what he said the poor have to give us:

á The poor don't take life for granted Ð they know the value of simply being alive
á The poor have a real sense of community and belonging to each other Ð they know their need to depend on each other. Community is more important than individualism
á The poor show creativity at all levels Ð surviving is, in itself, an act of creativity
á The poor know how to celebrate Ð celebration is not the same as entertainment or amusement. Celebration means people are happy when they are with one another, they celebrate life in each other
á The poor have tremendous generosity and commitment, even to the extent of giving up their lives.

'This sounds like real life to me and is a reminder of how attachment to riches can prevent us from experiencing life as it is meant to be lived. It would be wrong to use this as an argument for keeping the poor in poverty, but for me there is something in this that echoes the Easter story. Resurrection life is not in spite of the cross, but because of it. It is only through self-giving love that we can experience real living.

'Easter is about celebrating life, but let's be sure what kind of life we are celebrating and really go for it!'

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