The leader of the largest Anglican diocese in the country, Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies has spoken of the hope Jesus brings in declaring that the joy of Easter will not be extinguished by the coronavirus.
"I was asked by a television reporter recently whether COVID-19 is the virus that killed Easter," Archbishop Davies said in his annual Easter message. "My answer was a resounding no!"
"Like you, I am astounded by what I am seeing as each day passes. We have never experienced a crisis quite like this before. We have so many fears – unemployment, loneliness, the safety of our loved ones. Of course, the greatest fear of all from this virus is the fear of death. But the message of Easter is that death has been conquered."
Dr Davies is speaking during online services this year as last month he directed that churches be closed because of the potential spread of COVID-19. Since then, hundreds of Sydney parish churches have taken to the Internet with live-streaming services and meetings via videoconference.
"There is hope because God sent Jesus into our world. Jesus said, 'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full'. This does not mean that we will not be touched by sickness or the coronavirus – but Jesus wants us to know that there is life beyond."
Dr Davies urged people to pray 'in the quietness of your isolation'.
Referring to the difficulties and heartache of the pandemic, Dr Davies said "In the depths of your heart – pray that he will comfort you. And when your fears arise remember that in Jesus there is life."
The Archbishop will lead prayers for health workers in Australia and around the world, on a specially televised Easter Day service from St Andrew's Cathedral on Sunday.
Dean Kanishka Raffel will preach and there will be Easter music from a trimmed-down Cathedral choir, with social distancing.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Easter across the country on the Nine Network," the Archbishop said. "I hope many, many people will join in praying for our country and our world."
It will air on 9Gem (Channel 92 in Sydney - 9Gem is on other channels in regional and interstate areas) at 9 am on Sunday. After it airs, the service will be available on 9Now to watch on demand.