Bishop of Edinburgh for the Diocese of Edinburgh

The Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh

April 5, 2015

We are a company of strangers called to be sisters and brothers

In his Easter sermon preached in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh the Rt Rev Dr John Armes said:

‘The first disciples tell us how they met the risen Jesus as a stranger – in a garden, on the road, on the seashore.  In telling the story this way they are sharing with us something important about God.  That God often seems to us to be a stranger.  Our world is good, we are good, at picking out the strange, the alien, the misfit, the not-like-us, the not respectable, the not-to-be-respected.  The stories of the resurrection suggest that we should be ready to welcome such strangers because in so doing we welcome Christ.

“Yet this welcome isn’t always easy to offer.  This is not because they threaten us or make us share the cross of Christ but because we are a threat to them.  Too often we inflict suffering on those we find strange, either by the decisions we make or the structures we’re part of – we allow a world to persist in which others are victims, others suffer injustice and hardship in place of us – we become complicit in a violence that is done to others – we become the crucifiers.

“Thus we meet a crucified stranger on Easter morning… one who stands over against, offers us food yet also calls us to judgement.  A stranger who invites us into a church for those otherwise left outside – outside the cultural, economic, racial, sexual norms of the day – where we discover that we share a baptized, Eucharistic life with people whom we find strange and who, let’s be honest, find us strange too.

“Such a church will always subvert the barriers people try to build between each other.  And no matter where we place ourselves in the run up to the General Election, no matter who won our vote in the TV debate on Thursday – we are required to face the uncomfortable truth that the resurrection of Christ and the fellowship of Christ’s church makes no distinction between nationalities and does not understand what it is to be a foreigner or an immigrant, slave or free, male or female, straight or gay, guilty or innocent….

“We are a company of strangers called to be sisters and brothers, who find in our differences the presence of the risen Christ and are sent out to demonstrate how his resurrection remains good news in 2015.”