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Bishop's Easter Message 2017
Every year, I look forward to Holy Week. Last year, I was blessed to spend it with the churches on Kaua'i. I am on O'ahu again this year. I was able to be with the folk at Holy Cross, Mālaekahana, on Palm Sunday morning, and then at a party with the fun people of St. Peter's, Honolulu, in the evening. I will be with St. Clement's, Manoa, for Maundy Thursday and then at Holy Nativity, Aina Haina, on Good Friday. For the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening and then on Easter morning, I will be in the bishop's chair at the Cathedral. The celebration continues on Monday with Easter chapel at ʻIolani School and then chapel on Tuesday with St. Andrew's Schools.
Do you see why I look forward to Holy Week? God gives me the gift of seeing the Risen Christ in the faces of God's people - in your faces. We are together: the sick and the well, the happy and the sad, the young and the old. I am blessed to laugh and cry with you in the most holy week of the year. You incarnate for me a living faith that knows the pain of Good Friday and the triumph of Easter morning.
The 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, was very passionate that both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus give meaning to those of us who claim to be people of faith. In his 1972 Easter sermon, Bishop Ramsey explained, "First, an Easter faith which is always true is a faith that includes the wounds of Calvary. When Christ was raised from the dead, it did not mean that the cross was left behind. Far from it, the risen Christ is always the Christ who was crucified. The Cross and the Resurrection go together.... We can never know the risen Jesus and never serve him unless we face the reality of the Cross. We must still repent of the sins which wound him, as our sins always do. We must still find him in those who suffer as we go and serve him in them. Never can the notes of Calvary fade from the Church's songs of victory" [in
Canterbury Pilgrim (New York: Seabury Press, 1974), page 26].
Holy Week tells the whole story of our lives. The reality of our lives confirms the pain of the crucifixion. We hurt and fail one another. We lose those we care about most to anger, guilt, misunderstandings, addiction, depression, illness and death. I fail and I sin. Yet Easter offers us the vision of life renewed and of the world as it should be. Death is defeated. Forgiveness and wholeness are assured.
This gets to why I delight in being with you - the People of God - in various congregations throughout Holy Week. After ten years as Bishop, I have been with you through good times and bad. I have buried friends. I have baptized children and adults. I have laughed with you and cried. I have failed you and you have forgiven me. We have together been the Body of Christ. In these angry and violent times, you have shared God's love with others - and with me. Being with you allows me to live into the fullness of Holy Week and to renew my Easter faith. "Alleluia. Christ is risen" is our cry of hope that all that is hurt, broken, sinful and lost in us can be made well, whole, forgiven and found. Once so renewed, we can then together be Christ in the world.
I pray you have a blessed Easter!
Your brother in Jesus Christ,
The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i
Bishop's Ash Wednesday Message 2017 (March 1, 2017)
I have just returned from the service of imposition of ashes at the St. Andrew's Schools chapel. I was reminded of both the innocence of youth and the frail reality of our world. Looking out beyond the faces of the boys and girls, I could see past them through the great doors of the Cathedral to the houseless person walking by in the rain. The reality of the simple phrase "[r] emember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" was incarnated all around me. These young ones, like me, are walking along a path that might drive them far from other people (even to houselessness in the rain), but not from the love of God. I know too well that I have been "deaf to God's call to serve, as Christ served us" and that I "have not been true to the mind of Christ" (see BCP page 267). Yet here I was in the moment of forgiveness with children made in the very image of God. Renewal beckons. Love abounds.
This Lent I am committing myself to seek that forgiveness and love "by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word." Specifically, I will be reading (and listening closely to the words of) St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) and studying the Gospel of John. I have much travel in the month of March and that means the quiet of airplanes.
We live in unusual times. I pray that this Lent provides a time for your reflection and renewal for the days ahead. I hope you can find the time to pray and welcome God's love.
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick
A Word to the Church for the World, released on September 20, 2016.
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Meet Bea Fitzpatrick, the wife of Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick! In her own blog, Bea shares some of her experiences, thoughts and pictures as she travels with her husband to congregations throughout the Diocese and beyond. Visit her blog page HERE.