In her first Easter Message, the Bishop of Llandaff, the Right Reverend June Osborne pays tribute to the French police officer who gave his life for a stranger and says it showed ‘a resolute belief in something more than his own survival’.
“Goodness is stronger than evil
Love is stronger than hate
Light is stronger than darkness
Life is stronger than death
Victory is ours, through Him who loves us.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
If there is one recent story which has illustrated Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s great call to hope, it has to be that of Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, the police officer who died after a terrorist incident in South West France. Faced with a man determined to act out of hatred and violence, the policeman offered to swop places with the supermarket assistance who was being used as a human shield. He was able to help bring the deadly incident to an end though he himself was shot. He subsequently died but not before he was able to marry his fiancée who he had intended to wed in June of this year.
Many have admired his heroism, the courage it took to put himself in harm’s way. Yet there was more than just bravery in his actions, there was a resolute belief in something more than his own survival. Every day people in our communities surrender themselves, their energy and convenience, for the sake of doing quiet good. They act out of the conviction that life is stronger than death, that goodness is stronger than evil. Like Arnaud Beltrame, they make decisions which put them on the side of compassion and fairness, protecting the dignity and humanity of others, usually family members but sometimes strangers.
Whether such deeds are bold, brazen and applauded, or whether they go entirely unnoticed and unappreciated, they still contribute to God’s project we call Easter: that love, light and life are always more essential and enduring than hate, darkness and death. Christians believe that God invested His very self in that project, to win individuals back from their own incapacities and failings, and to draw the whole world order out of the grasp of dark powers of cruelty and bitterness. Such dark powers leave us bewildered when they lead to random acts of violence but all around us we see systemic injustice – Archbishop Tutu was not allowed to vote in his native South Africa because of the colour of his skin until he had already been a bishop for some years and was heading towards retirement.
Easter season brings a universal sense of renewal with the pleasure of new growth, holidays and the sense of Spring. Yet for Christians it is so much more. We give witness to the joy of spiritual transformation, won for us by God through the cross and resurrection, and despair gives way to faith and love and hope. As we together enjoy Eastertide let’s remember that victory is ours, through Him who loves us.
- Bishop June celebrated the traditional Maundy Thursday Chrism Mass at Llandaff Cathedral today which clergy from across the diocese attended to renew their ordination vows. Tonight she joins the congregation at St Luke’s, Canton. On Holy Saturday, she will confirm six candidates and baptise three, during a special service and Easter Vigil at the Cathedral at 8pm. On Easter Day, Bishop June will celebrate a Dawn Vigil at 6am with Confirmation at St Mabon’s, Llanfabon (CF46 6PG) before returning to the Cathedral to celebrate Eucharist and preach at 11am. The services are open to all and everyone is welcome.
Picture of Bishop June © Huw Ryden