"As Christians across Great Britain and the rest of the world gather to celebrate the most important event in the Christian faith, I would like to wish you all a happy Easter.

"It was a privilege for me to visit the Holy Land in the lead up to Easter this year. I will be thinking of Palestinian and Israeli Christians in particular at this time, many of whom are unable to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem, the site of Christ’s crucifixion.

"For hundreds of years people have celebrated Easter. It is a powerful story that speaks of hope born in sacrifice.  Here in Britain I see that hope in the actions of Christians and others up and down the United Kingdom who give their time volunteering in projects such as foodbanks, debt counselling centres, and youth work projects. So often their sacrifice of time, expertise and energy is not recognised but Easter is a good time to do exactly that. As local services are withdrawn, some communities are reliant on the support of churches and their programmes.

"I also see hope in the thousands who spend their time not fighting for their own rights, but who instead speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,  crying out against injustice.  It is encouraging to note the Gather conference happening in London later this month, bringing together church networks from all over the UK who are supporting this type of work.

"As I see communities coming together to give hope to others, the challenge to those of us who are politicians is to be servant leaders – leaders who are called to roll up our sleeves to serve; who will identify with the struggles of ordinary people; and will strive for fairness and equality.

"I want to end by wishing you, your families and your friends a peaceful and joyful Easter."

AuthorStephen Timms