Easter Message 2019: Rev Keith Garner
Easter is the highest and holiest time in the Christian calendar.
However, we cannot meaningfully celebrate it in a vacuum. Either as we look back to the first Easter, or as we reflect upon it today.
Considering the first Easter, we’re brought face to face with the reality of suffering, betrayal and denial, as well as forgiveness.
This year, Easter is acknowledged in the context of violence in the unacceptable picture of terrorism in Christchurch, directed towards totally innocent people and the outpouring of human grief, which brings people across all religious groupings together and unites the international community.
For many in Australia, this Easter is acknowledged in the aftermath of floods which brought so much devastation after many years of drought… and people coming together in support and care for one another.
In the context of major events such as these, we look for hope.
Having made these points, our Easter weekend is caught up with the sorrow of One crucified between two thieves and yet offering forgiveness and hope to the world. On Easter Day, we celebrate the wonder of the empty tomb, which speaks of God's gift of new life. Easter has a before and after, and that must be true of our modern Easter.
The days prior to the first Easter are filled with an experience of sadness and fear similar to that which dominates far too many lives today. At Wesley Mission, we find ourselves reaching out to people who are experiencing the pain of cruelty and rejection, the wide implications of mental health issues, the growing sense of loneliness and isolation, as well as the indications of disadvantage and poverty which run through our society.
What is Easter going to say to the world this year and to our contemporary Australia in particular? It must be able to address the deep-seated expressions of hurt in our community.
We may describe it as good news, the good news of Easter, providing that:
It clearly has a word of comfort to offer to those who are grieving as a direct result of the growing expressions of inhumanity that are often around us.
It challenges those who seek to divide our people with racist rhetoric and calls for the end of it now. Let's be united as a community reaching beyond all the things that too easily divide us.
It reminds us that God's love is offered unreservedly to all. The power of Jesus Christ is able to change people's lives in a most remarkable way.
Both upon the cross where Jesus Christ died for all, and in a garden where he revealed himself as the Risen One, he opens a message that we must be ready to hear, a mission in which we can all participate and a fresh meaning for all our lies. May you appreciate the message of hope, which pervades Easter every year, but perhaps especially this year.