Easter is the most important celebration in the Christian calendar. It is also still an event that Australians look forward to, even if it is mainly for a couple of public holidays.
Despite the fact that church attendance in Australia has been in decline for some years, there is still a sense of solemnity and respect for the traditions of Easter. Good Friday sees news networks report traditional celebrations, and the AFL has not yet succumbed to playing football on this sacred day.
Social researcher Hugh Mackay has talked about the human need for ritual in our lives. In a society that is constantly on the go, we feel the need for stillness and a sense of the familiar. That’s why churches still achieve their largest attendances at Easter and Christmas.
Easter is a celebration that Australians can resonate with. There has been a lot of confusion over the years about what defines Australian identity, but one thing we have been known for is our support for the underdog.
Jesus was the same. We all know he was called a friend of “sinners” (Matthew 11:19). It was the poor, women, the outsiders, who were the ones Jesus loved to spend time with. These were the people who the religious leaders considered cursed by God and inferior to others.
It was for these underdogs that Jesus willingly died. People who were constantly forgotten and pushed out of the way were finally given the recognition they deserved. It was to them that Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The hope of Easter, though, is not only about Jesus laying down his life for us. It is equally through his resurrection that God’s infinite love is shown. The great message of Jesus’ resurrection is that God is bringing everything together (Revelation 21:5), and we are invited to be part of it.
The true message of Easter is for all Australians. It is for workers laid off because of company downturns; it is for single mothers who struggle to feed their families; and it is for the suburban family just trying to live a peaceful life. God is changing the world, and Easter is the celebration of it.More