an and I have just returned from our trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania where I took part in a very successful set of conversations and meetings with bishops from around the Anglican Communion. A total of six Canadian bishops met with ten bishops from Africa, two from the United States and one from England, as we continued the work begun last year in London to explore and affirm our desire to journey and work together. We committed ourselves to a deep desire to remain open to each other as partners in furthering God's mission for our Church and for the world in the face of differences that exist in our context for ministry and our theological understandings.
I hope you will read the communiqué that was written and agreed upon by all in attendance that we now have available on our website. We are also planning an evening at our Cathedral that will give me an opportunity to talk more fully about the experience we had, not just at the meetings but also our encounters with the harsher realities of life in this part of the world. Susan had a number of contacts with members of the Mother's Union in the diocese there and will be speaking to groups who are interested in hearing more about her perspective on our visit.
Those of you who have had the experience of encountering the degree of poverty and hardship that exists in places like this around the world will know the difficulty that we experienced in trying to reflect upon, and come to terms with, all that we witnessed in those slums and communities. It was very tempting for us to come home and to run away from those images as we immersed ourselves back into the hectic and busy life that we lead. It would not be difficult to allow that experience to overwhelm us and it would be easy to convince ourselves that the challenges these people face are too great and that nothing can be done.
I will try, nevertheless, to keep those images with me throughout the season of Lent and as I move through Holy Week. I want to try to imagine standing just as the sun was rising in that dark and empty cave into which the body of Jesus had been placed. I want to try to imagine the emptiness in the hearts of the disciples as they stood in that empty tomb and were now themselves beginning to resist the temptation of running and hiding away.
Maybe you can recall a moment in your own past when everything that gave meaning and joy to your life seemed suddenly to have been taken away: a moment of total bereavement.
Can we imagine the darkness of this one moment being expanded to encompass the whole earth, the whole of humanity? At one point when I stood in a pathetic stone hovel in Dar es Salaam and prayed with a man who was dying of AIDS that was exactly what it seemed like to me!
Those of us who will gather for the Easter Vigil service, however, will witness a new flame being carried into a darkened church.
For me it will be a powerful sign of new light that enters into the darkness and emptiness that I will have carried with me from my visit to those slums. Into that moment of emptiness and despair a flicker of light will begin to shine; a small but bright beam that will begin to push back that darkness and the first glimmer of new hope and renewed life will find a way to break through.
On Easter Sunday morning we will hear in our Gospel reading that very early, at dawn, as the sun was just beginning to come over the horizon, the discovery was made! Jesus Christ was raised from the dead! God did not, nor will not, allow the darkness of this world to have the final say; not even death itself and the more that news, that incredible, miraculous, life-changing news began to be taken in and acted upon, the more the light of God's love would shine. It is the good news of Easter that allows us to continue to live our lives despite the brokenness that confronts us and sometimes paralyses us. The Easter dawn gives us the hope and courage to be the bearers of the light of the risen Christ for the people God calls us to serve.
May God bless you as you celebrate and rejoice in the gift and the glory of this wonderful news: Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!