Bishop gives first Easter Day service

The Northern Echo: This morning's service at Durham Cathedral This morning's service at Durham Cathedral

THE recently enthroned Bishop of Durham has spoken of human fear during his inaugural Easter Day service.

The Right Reverend Paul Butler led a dawn service of Initiation and Communion at Durham Cathedral today (Easter Day).

He baptised five candidates and then confirmed them along with 20 other candidates from churches across the diocese.

The dawn service, often called the Dawn Vigil, is the first service of Easter Day and symbolises the point at which it is proclaimed that Jesus is risen and his new light is cast on the world to lift it from darkness.

In his first Easter Day service since taking on the role in February, Bishop Butler gave a sermon in which he spoke of fear and what makes people afraid.

He said: “What really tops our fears are loss of freedom, the unknown, pain, disappointment, misery, loneliness, ridicule, rejection, death and failure.

“We might be a little more specific; loss of a particular friend, or family member; loss of job or home.

“There are plenty of fears around; talk to any client at a foodbank; group of elderly people at a luncheon club or young people in a school and fears will be expressed.”

He went on to talk about the plight of those in Syria and other troubled spots including Central African Republic, Ukraine and South Sudan.

He said: “We live in a world where there is much fear. So too on the streets of our communities like Jarrow, Hartlepool, Stockton, Sunderland, Easington and the farms of the Dales there are people who live with deep fears.

“Fears of domestic abuse and violence; fears of long term illness; fears of failing to be able to heat the home and feed the children adequately; fears of no job on leaving school or college; fears of loneliness and hopelessness.”

Bishop Butler concluded by saying: “We live in a world where many are caught up in lives of fear. Fear that restricts and holds people back from living full lives.

“But there is a fear that takes us forward; it is the 'fear of the Lord'. This is not being afraid of God but it is, in Eugene Peterson's words, 'living responsively and appropriately before who God is, who he is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit'.

“It is living the life of the risen one with both fear and great joy. May we do so and walk in the newness of resurrection life.”

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