During April, we have been reminded again about the appalling abuses that have permeated into all areas of society, including the church. Just a few days ago it was revealed that a formal complaint of serious misconduct could be made against a Church of England bishop over his response to a case of child abuse involving a vicar. The complaint focuses on Dr Peter Forster’s response to a letter sent to him in 2009 by Warrington vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson who, in the note, confessed to child abuse.
The media also covered a new report published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). The report followed four years of research involving C of E dioceses and dozens of abuse survivors. The majority of abuse survivors who spoke to the SCIE said they had been unsatisfied with the response of the Church to their case. In response, the C of E said the results of the survivor survey made for “very difficult reading.”
If we looked over recent weeks and months the list could go on for much longer. However, we can be encouraged over Easter. There is still hope for the Church.
Easter Sunday is the best day of the year from a Christian point of view. Easter is the day on which everything changes. At Easter life conquers death and light pierces the darkness.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead on Easter Sunday, then the world we live in now, and the stories we read about in the news, are as good as it gets. But if Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday and is alive, then today’s world is as bad as it will ever get and is at its low point. If Jesus is alive, then there is a new world breaking into the old one, a new heaven and a new earth that is far greater and more beautiful than the old one. In this world there will be no more abuse, no death, neither will there be mourning, crying, or pain anymore.
Over Easter we are reminded that Jesus is the great light who “shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” He desires us to reflect this hope found at Easter and shine it into the dark places of the world, including inside his Church.
We reflect this hope when we:
- Encourage those who can’t move and have given up.
- Obey God in Jesus Christ in the way we love and care for people.
- Pursue justice and stand up for the oppressed and the vulnerable.
- Tell the truth about the evil of sexual assault and the evil of covering it up.
Looking at the world and the news we may be tempted to believe the darkness of Good Friday will continue forever. But over Easter we are reminded that there will come a day when light will vanquish the darkness and there will be no more abuse.