Holy Land bishop says dire need for light from Easter message to counter 'culture of death'

(Photo: © Peter Kenny / Ecumenical News)A woman prays on Feb. 10, 2016 in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the church in Jerusalem where Christians believe Jesus was buried and resurrected after his crucifixion.

The world "desperately needs" the light and life of Easter message of the empty tomb, says Holy Land Lutheran bishop Munib Younan.

Younan is the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and is also president of the Lutheran World Federation and delivered his Holy Week message on the church's website.

"We need the light and life of Easter morning. In just the first three months of this year, we in the Middle East have been witnessing an alarming wave of violence.

He cited recent tragedies unfold in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Nigeria, and many other nations.

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"Even this week, which we call Holy, began with a terror attack in Brussels," said Younan.

"It's difficult to comprehend the amount of death and destruction which has plagued our world, in just the few short months since the world's Christians gathered to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace."

Younan noted that everywhere in the world there is a "culture of death and fear" heavily promoted by extremists, by the media, even by some politicians.

"This culture of death and fear instills in us a certain envy, in which the only way for us to have life is to deny the life of the other - whether the enemy, or the neighbor of a different religion, or the refugee," he said.

It was, "This culture of death is what Jesus experienced on his Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross."

Younan said that Jesus faced "a culture of deception and betrayal" when his disciple Judas joined him for the Last Supper, "but then sold him for thirty pieces of silver."

He experienced "denial and abandonment" when Peter unequivocally denied him three times.

"Jesus experienced a culture of power over others when Herod and Pilate reconciled out of their common desire to humiliate him."

The bishop said Jesus was well aware of the "culture of death, and where it ultimately leads."

Younan said, "The resurrection of Jesus means we must not accept such a culture. We will not give in to despair, to hopelessness, to violence, or to complacency.

"We need not stay in the tomb, for by the power of Jesus' resurrection, we have been raised to new life with him."

(Photo: © Peter Kenny / Ecumenical News)Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Jerusalem on Feb/ 10. 2016
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