Christ is Risen from the dead!
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
(Orthodox Christian Easter Hymn)
This week the National Council of Churches, along with the entire Christian community, travels the road to Easter. Beginning with Palm Sunday, and the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem; continuing to Calvary, and the remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion; and culminating at the tomb and the celebration of Jesus’ glorious resurrection: the Church metaphorically, liturgically, spiritually, and prayerfully follows our Lord through the Passion and Pascha. We believe that through this journey he has brought salvation to the world.
This year the Christian procession through Holy Week has been marred by violence in the Middle East. On Palm Sunday, two congregations of the ancient and venerable Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt were bombed in terrorist attacks. The National Council of Churches mourns the 45 people who lost their lives and we condemn the extremist ideology and violence by which these deaths took place.
We, as Christians, also pray that their memories will be eternal. Indeed, eternal life is what the Easter celebration is all about! Having accompanied them in death, Jesus will bestow life upon them, eternal life that knows no more suffering and turns sadness to joy.
Meanwhile, in the days leading up to Holy Week, a chemical weapon attack reportedly carried out by the Syrian government claimed the lives of more than 80 people and the United States carried out a military strike against Syria in response. Moving forward, the National Council of Churches urges decisive multilateral action consistent with international law to ensure chemical weapons are never used again and we call for urgent diplomatic initiatives to bring an end to the Syrian civil war.
May the memory of all of the victims of this recent violence, as witnesses of the reconciliation of the world to God, now compel us, and all people of goodwill, to seek the reconciliation of all people to one another. And may we look ahead with joy toward Easter morning, when we will proclaim in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, that “Christ is Risen! Indeed he is Risen!”