How we need this hope and the joy it brings. How we need this as war continues in Ukraine and other challenges present themselves in our own land and around the world. We are to celebrate the Easter feast with great joy, yes, but not unmindfully, not carelessly, for the risen body of Christ bears the wounds of his passion. Holding sorrow and unbounded joy together characterise the sincerity and truth that come from an encounter with the Risen Christ.

Saying this is not to diminish Easter joy, for true joy is to be found in thankful generosity. It springs from the abundance of God’s love, which is the source of life itself and every good and perfect gift (cf. James 1. 17). When we are uncertain, or when we feel insecure, we can narrow the scope of our affections. This is something we have seen repeatedly, particularly in the contrast between the UK’s response to refugees, mired in visa bureaucracy and the hundreds of thousands across the length and breadth of this land eager to extend hospitality, welcome and safe refuge with a focus on those fleeing from Ukraine.

Earlier this month, I met the Ekiyor family who, having fled from Ukraine, are now living temporarily with one of our priests, Fr Alex Barrow. The Ven. Solomon Ekiyor, his wife Pamela who is a medic, and their three children could hear bombs falling as they made it to safety, first in Budapest and now here in London. It was a privilege to hear their story and to welcome them to the Diocese. I was impressed by their resilience, dignity and evident hope in God’s good purposes despite the violent disruption of war. It was a joy to hear the children playing safely in the garden at Bishop’s House with my niece, Victoria, and the family dogs.

During the pandemic we have all learnt anew that small gestures and acts of kindness to neighbours and those who were isolated or in any particular need in the different lockdowns made an immense and disproportionate contribution to the common good. This is something we should hold onto in our desire to be instruments of God’s love as we emerge from the pandemic into the world shaped by it. The injunction in Matthew 25. 40 – ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ – attests to our living hope in Jesus Christ, risen, ascended and glorified.

The generous work of the foodbank at St Margaret the Queen in Streatham, close to Bishop’s House, is a faithful example of caring for Christ’s family and honouring the Risen Christ by honouring his brothers and sisters. It is a judgment on our society that foodbanks are needed at all – but the gift of food and dignity to our neighbour – my neighbour here in Streatham, your neighbour wherever you are reading this – is truly to serve Christ and to see Christ in our neighbour.

With so much occurring around and among us, then, our joy in the Resurrection of our Lord ought to make us more Christ-like, with greater love and wider affection, our hearts broader and stronger. God has been generous to us in sending his Son into the world for our salvation, and Christ himself is the model for all Christian lives. Christ’s coming into the world, his Incarnation and Resurrection, have their power because God showed his kindness by taking our nature.

The truth of Christian faith is that in Christ, God became one of our kind. The Incarnation is the fulfilment of God’s identification with creation so that we might become ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1. 4). It is our nature that has risen with Christ, our nature that will ascend with him to the Father.

In order to live the Risen life more fully, we need to recall God’s kindness to each of us. Through the Resurrection we have a glimpse of what we might become in God’s grace. We can see that the path to heaven is the path to God himself.

But just as God in Christ became a man for others so we, too, are to be men and women for others. This is where our kindness will live – not forced, nor owed, but free. If God has taken our kind, all humanity has been given the dignity we enjoy.

So let us keep the feast for Christ is truly Risen from the dead. Let us keep it mindfully, with the sincere generosity that flows from joy and the gentle kindness that has become possible because God in Christ really is one of us.

I wish you and those you love a very happy Easter.

With Archbishop Hosam Naoum for his enthronement at St George’s Jerusalem – our link diocese Eastertide 2021