Archbishop's Easter Message
Wednesday 19 March 2008
Radio 2's Pause for Thought
Good Friday's coming up of course and I guess a lot of people will be remembering it's ten years since the Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland. And of course, for Christians Good Friday is supposed to be about peace agreements you might say, that's why it means what it does to Christians. The stories Christians tell is about how the death of Jesus brought about peace between God and us – because it shows we don't have to be frightened of a god who can forgive the very worst we can do to him and to each other. And so it makes possible a new level of peace between human beings too. And that's Something that took a good while for people in Northern Ireland who thought they were Christians to discover – but they did at last.
It's one way in which the original Good Friday story has actually come alive in our own time. When I think about what happened on the first Good Friday, I think about events that have brought it to life for me and others in my lifetime. Not only in Northern Ireland, but other places too.
A few years back, I visited a country just as it was coming out of a bad period of civil war. And what had given a real impetus to the peace movement there was a recent and shocking event. A group of local missionary monks had gone out to negotiate for the release of prisoners, and they'd been killed in cold blood by one of the local warlords. And somehow this had shocked the whole community into realising the need for change, and peace suddenly looked possible. I met people there who'd been involved – I met one of the warlords - and the events were fresh in everyone's minds there.
They'd just brought home that real peace happens when people let go and take real risks – in personal relationships just as much as in relations between tribes or countries. On the first Good Friday, Jesus put his life on the line for us to be able to see that we could be at peace with God and so we could let go of our fear of other people as well. It's the ultimate Peace Agreement; it's worth remembering.