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Viewpoint from Rt Rev Alan S Hopes 02/04/2021

ALAN HOPESRt Rev Alan S Hopes
Bishop of East Anglia

Although I am the Catholic Bishop of all East Anglia, I actually live in Norfolk, in a village just a couple of miles from the River Yare, in what would at one time have been an old farmhouse.  At night it is dark and silent, but in the morning there is birdsong and the sound of sheep from the neighbouring field.  It’s all a far cry from Westminster, London where I used to be a bishop. And I have to admit it took me a while to get used to it.  As time has passed, however, I have really grown to appreciate the sights and sounds of the countryside, and especially those things which are not so obvious inside the city, for example the change of seasons
dove leftNow it is spring time. Since February the Church has been keeping the season of Lent.  The word Lent is an Old English word which means ‘lengthen’ – because the days are lengthening now.  The days are getting longer, the light comes earlier, the countryside is springing into new life once again, and we are looking forward with hope to the great feast of Easter and to the new life it offers
 Something similar is also happening in our communities right now, in towns and villages across the region, in our fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.  As more people receive the vaccine, as we continue to be vigilant about social-distancing and similar precautions, and as the numbers of infections continue to fall, we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, and the promise of a brighter future
Dove rightThat promise of new life is central to our Christian belief.  As Christians we are always optimists – always looking forward with hope to the future!  But that does not mean we run away from the darkness, or try to pretend it is not there.  The joy of Easter is preceded by the suffering of the crucifixion.  The Easter story teaches us that our God, Jesus Christ, is a God who suffers; who has to carry a heavy cross; who has to make the greatest sacrifice for us.  What we also learn at Easter, however, is that no suffering goes unnoticed, no cross is carried alone, and no sacrifice is without meaning.  We have all felt the importance of that in the many sacrifices and sufferings of the past year
So this Easter, in Norfolk, as the days lengthen, the flowers open again and the bees get back to work, I am giving thanks for the many sacrifices made during the pandemic; praying for those who lost their lives and those who mourn them; and looking forward with hope to that Easter promise of new life ahead
I hope you can all join me, in my prayers, and in my hope.  I wish you all a very happy and joyful Easter!

also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury

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