Letter to the WCC member churches at Easter 2012
Geneva, 13 April 2012
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week … Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)
Peace describes the first encounter between the Resurrected Lord and his disciples. The disciples were dominated by fear and burdened by their own shortcomings due to the terrible events that happened in the last days before the Resurrection. But as the Lord had prophesized, He was resurrected from the death, bringing salvation and peace to the entire creation. The barriers between heaven and earth were broken and the grace of God abundantly flowed to us. When the Resurrected Lord came to his disciples, the first words he used to address them were, “Peace be with you!” The same words are “said again” (John 20:20) immediately afterwards. Rarely in the Gospels does our Lord repeat twice the same words.
This peace is given to us as pure gift. It is the peace of our Resurrected Lord that overcomes sin, violence, separation and discrimination. It is a peace that changes fear into gladness, as it happened with the Apostles (John 20:20). It is not our peace. It is not a peace that we are supposed to keep for ourselves. We are called to share the peace of the risen Lord. We, all Churches that are part of the fellowship of the World Council of Churches, are committed to do so and to work for a just peace in the whole world. We reflected on peace and gave glory to the Prince of Peace as we gathered in Kingston, Jamaica, last year. We have committed ourselves to pray to our “God of Life” to lead us to “justice and peace” on our way to the 10th Assembly that will take place in Busan Korea in 2013. This is a journey that we make together united in this prayer to the triune God; to our Father, who “sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4) “for us and for our salvation” (The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed); to our Resurrected Lord who brought peace to the world; and to the Holy Spirit, as “to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
Witnessing to the world the peace and justice of our Resurrected Lord, we are fully aware of the conflicts, violence and injustice of all kinds that surround us; but, as witnesses of our Lord’s resurrection (cf. Acts 1:22) we are “eager to maintain the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
I wish You a joyous Easter! May the peace of our Resurrected Lord fill our hearts and bestow us all His justice!
Christ is risen!
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches general secretary