This time last year… we were just into lockdown number one.

Now, 12 months later…125,000+ deaths, every person, every family affected. The pain and loss has already been immense. The grief and cost of Covid will be with us for years to come.

But there is always hope. Hope seen in acts of kindness. NHS staff giving their all and sometimes their lives. Tens of thousands of volunteers helping neighbours, the housebound and now delivering vaccines by the million. They have filled me with hope.

The story of Easter begins with darkness, division and death, as Jesus is nailed to a cross of wood to die as a criminal. He was crucified, dead and buried.

But that wasn’t the end. On Easter Day Christians around the world celebrate Jesus risen from the dead. Christians have discovered that life with Jesus begins now, and lasts forever. That's why there is always hope.

The crucified Jesus comforts us in our fear and grief. The risen Jesus inspires us to come together as one, and to share his love and new life with others. In Dudley we are beginning the As One campaign, hoping to fill our streets with friendliness. To work together for a better future for everyone. To come together As One.

Happy Easter!

Bishop Martin