EASTER - CRUTCH OR CHALLENGE?
By Reverend Carol Bennett, Synod Liaison Minister, Uniting Church
It is a bit far- fetched - hung on a cross one day, buried and then alive again a few days later. Why do people believe such things?
Someone once suggested to me my faith was a crutch that got me through the tough things of life. I’ve thought about that quite a lot over the years.
How can a crutch help when you follow Jesus who calls us to welcome people the world rejects; to include those that some politicians and leaders exclude; and to love people who others demonise by pointing to difference and telling us “they” are to blame for whatever it is they want us to be afraid of?
This faith in a God who became human and lived with the joys and pains we live with is not a crutch. It is a challenge. It challenges us not to succumb to the belief that wealth will give us security. It challenges us to care about the other, the one who is different, as if they are our sisters and brothers, our parents or our children.
It challenges us to not to be taken in by leaders who tell us that refugees are “illegal”. It challenges us to care for the least and the lonely, the prisoner and the outcast. This faith in Jesus calls us to love in the face of hatred and fear; to include when others would exclude; and to speak out for justice and truth when others want to twist truth to suit their own ends.
It is a bit far-fetched. It is truth - that God calls us to love God and love one another as we love ourselves. May your Easter be a time of new life for you and all you.
By Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, the Most Reverend Julian Porteous
The essential Easter message is one of hope, the triumph of hope over the darkness that can enshroud our lives. St John tells us that as Jesus entered the final stages of his dying a darkness came over the whole earth. Jesus rose on the following Sunday.
He rose as the dawn broke. The darkness of death gave way to the light of the Resurrection. Easter is about the victory of light over darkness. Darkness can come upon our lives when we are confronted by our own personal crises such as financial trouble, marital breakdown, or serious life threatening illness.
We sense a powerlessness and our future is in jeopardy. Fear can beset us. We can find ourselves anxious and uncertain. Our sense of hope and optimism can evaporate. We can feel ourselves a victim of powers of destruction. We can find ourselves crying out, “why me?”.
These are the moments of darkness where the dark seems supreme and all light has gone. But there is a light that can dispel the darkness. Christ is this light that triumphs over the darkness. One of the messages of Easter is that no matter how difficult and painful a particular crisis in our life may seem we should never lose hope.
We turn to Jesus, the risen Lord. He is ready to take our burdens and renew us in body, soul and mind. He is the resurrection and the light.
God really loves you
By Reverend John Smith, Superintendent, Tasmanian Baptists.
Recently I had cause to tell someone, “God Loves You”.
Time and the line-up at the checkout put an end to the conversation. My statement about God, was in response to a question put to me, along the lines of, “Can you tell me some good news”?
The person asking the question of me was not at all convinced that there was much good going on. Had I had the time, I would have been privileged to go on and say that the reason I can say that “God loves you” is that He has shown the world His love through the death and the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
People all over are concerned about our world. There seems to be a lack of good news: least ways, if we took note of what is presented to us over and over, we might think so.
Nevertheless, the good news of Easter is about what Jesus was prepared to do for the whole human race. Easter is about Jesus. Jesus who died for people; Jesus whom God raised from the dead.
This is the heart of the good news. Jesus died, not because He had to, rather, willingly, to offer forgiveness from sin to the human race. In that death, He died for every human being, knowing as He did so, the possibility that some would shun what He did, even blame God for the troubles of the world, let alone accept His offer of love and forgiveness.
God however, persists. This is what He says about it: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.
If you want to look up this reference for yourself, you can find it in the Bible, the Gospel of John, chapter 3 and verse 16.
God has shown His love by sending His Son to and for the world. He wants people to believe in Him.
He wants people to know Him. He wants people to accept His offer of love, forgiveness and eternal life. That is good news and that is the offer of Easter.
God is for us. He has sent His Son Jesus, into the world for us. My prayer is that Tasmanians will come to know who Jesus really was and what He was all about. I really trust it is true for you and if it’s not so, that it would become so.
Blessings for Easter and at this wonderful time of the year from the Tasmanian Baptist Community
Sacrifice and Hope
By Reverend Richard Condie, Bishop of Tasmania
When a soldier lays down her life for freedom – blood shed so that others might be free; when a child whose life is prematurely taken donates their organs so that another might live; when parents sacrifice their own comforts and expend great effort for the benefit of their children; when great political leaders lose their status and power and reputation, to make a stand for the freedom and liberation of others; then we see power of sacrifice.
Sacrifice – “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim” (Macquarie Dictionary).
What could be considered “a higher or more pressing claim” than someone’s own life? The answer is: the life of one you love. We gladly make sacrifices for the ones we love. We do it in small ways every day, and from time to time, in much bigger ways, even with our lives.
The story of Easter begins with costly loving sacrifice, where because of “the higher or more pressing claim” of your life and mine, Jesus lays down his life for others in love. He dies so that we might be forgiven and live in freedom. And then on Easter morning he lives to show his triumph over death.
His sacrifice produces hope. Hope in the face of despair and brokenness, and even death; that someone has gone before to secure our tomorrow.