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A Holy Week and Easter Message from the Bishop
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

Through this holiest of weeks, as we make our spiritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the Cross, and the Empty Tomb, you are in my every prayer. I pray for your wellbeing and safety, and for a deeply holy experience of the sacrifice of Jesus and the gift of resurrected life his resurrection brings us.

The celebration to which this particular Holy Week is leading us will be unlike any most of us have ever experienced. The context of uncertainty, anxiety, and isolation that is defining our common life is as novel as the coronavirus itself. Perhaps only the two World Wars of the last century have interrupted the norms of human life like this pandemic has. Together, those did not engage the number of countries that this contagion has already.

The current epidemiological models for Ohio, along with the continuation of Governor DeWine’s stay-at-home directive to May 1st, make it clear that we have a considerable way to go in our battle to subdue this virus. Following his and Dr. Amy Acton’s leadership, we will continue the suspension of public worship in our congregations until further notice and it is possible to gather safely, which may well be beyond the end of this month. This is our shared responsibility. Even masked and more than six feet apart, we are in this together.

In addition to the online Easter worship your parish provides, or in the absence of one, I encourage you to embrace our companionship through the diocesan-wide Easter Service of Holy Eucharist. It can be accessed via Trinity Cathedral’s website and YouTube page, anytime Easter Day from 10 in the morning on. Dean Owens will be the celebrant in the Cathedral and receive the sacraments on behalf of all. I will offer the homily and blessing from home, as will readers and intercessors from East Liverpool to Bowling Green. 

The context of this Holy Week may provide many of us with an increased sensitivity to what the first Easter was like. Resurrection hope is often more evident and accessible to us in the context of loss – loss of security, stability, confidence, and loved ones. In the context of loss, we are often less defended from and more vulnerable to the sacrificial love of God that was most fully manifested in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

The “sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ,” to which the Committal service refers, is precisely what Easter provides, and what we, in turn, proclaim. It is a hope not reserved for the next life, but speaks equally to new life in this life. In the valley of fear, seclusion, and uncertainty through which we are passing just now, the saving hope of the risen Christ leads us onward to a new day, every day. And no isolation or quarantine will inhibit our celebration of that Resurrection truth.

With every Easter blessing and affection,

The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
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