The resurrection is real and changes everything

Church leaders’ Easter messages

This year, the Western Churches will celebrate Easter on Sunday 9 April and the Orthodox and Oriental Churches will celebrate Easter on Sunday 17 April.

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney

We live in a sceptical, you might even say a cynical world. Many who appreciate an Easter long weekend, are sceptical about its message – that Jesus’ death was a ransom for our sins and he was raised from death as a demonstration that he is the Lord of life.

Kanishka Raffel

Scepticism about this has been around for as long as the message itself. From the beginning, some called it foolishness. Scepticism about Jesus is not a 21st-century phenomenon. Jesus’ own disciple Thomas was not convinced of the resurrection – until an encounter with the risen Jesus took away his doubt. Jesus’ resurrection was physical and real. Death really was defeated. The gospel writers tell us the tomb was empty. Jesus not only appeared but spoke, ate, talked, and walked with people like Thomas, and people like you and me.

Have you experienced the true meaning of Easter? You could start by visiting a local church to hear more about how Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. Or pick up a gospel and read about Jesus for yourself. This is not just another long weekend. The Lordship of Jesus is real – he is Lord over death, Lord over life, Lord over us. I hope you may learn more of him this Easter.

Kanishka Raffel
Archbishop of Sydney

Anglican Church of Australia

Easter is a great gift! Four days off in a row. An opportunity to get away. Spend time with family and friends. Get jobs done around the house before winter.

Easter is also a great gift because what happened at Easter nearly 2000 years ago changed the world forever.

On the day known as Good Friday, a man called Jesus was executed just outside Jerusalem in the way typical of the Roman empire of the time – he was crucified. But this Jesus was different. He had done nothing wrong. He went to the cross willingly.

Sometime between sunset on ‘Good Friday’ and dawn on the day we know as Easter Day, Jesus broke the hold of death and came to new life. He left the cave in which his dead body had been laid and over the next few weeks was seen alive by more than 500 people. Those are the facts of Easter.

And the gift? Jesus’ death was not a waste or a tragedy but meant something, did something, caused a change. Jesus’ death on that cross brought reconciliation and peace between God and humanity. Jesus died because he loved. He died for us. Because of Jesus’ death we can be reconciled with God.

The fact that Jesus broke through death means that the power of death is broken. The power of death is defeated not just for Jesus but for all people and all creation. We look forward to a time when that victory is universally seen, but the decisive action has taken place. The battle has been won.

Our opportunity is to live in the light of that hope, to offer that hope to others and to do things that make the future part of the present. To offer life, peace, justice, care, inclusion and love so that many, many people will ‘cotton on’ to what God has done in Jesus and live its hope in their lives.

The gift of Easter is peace with God and hope for now and the future. Enjoy the weekend!

Geoffrey Smith, Archbishop of Adelaide
Primate, Anglican Church of Australia

Wesley Mission

Easter is a story of unimaginable sacrifice and, with it, life-transforming hope.

As we celebrate Easter and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, I’m reminded of the many challenges we face in our world today – and why in the midst of it all, we all need hope.

We continue to live in a world of uncertainty. We’ve stared down the pandemic and survived fire, drought, and floods. The war in Ukraine continues to exact a terrible toll, while tensions in our own Asia-Pacific region are on the rise. The devastating impacts of climate change are becoming all too real, while our global economy seems to be riding a roller-coaster of uncertainty.

As the cost-of-living crisis bites and the cost of housing skyrockets, it has become increasingly difficult for people to make ends meet. Financial hardship is on the increase, with millions of Australians living in poverty.

Many are struggling to pay for necessities like food, clothing, gas, electricity, fuel, and water. The cost of food alone has skyrocketed this past year. For some families, it’s a case of making changes to lifestyle, and eating habits or too often going hungry just to keep a roof over their heads. With the acute lack of affordable housing, it’s a perfect storm.

Stu Cameron

Increasing numbers of people are coming to Wesley Mission for emergency relief, financial counselling, homelessness services and community housing.

Across our community services, we’re seeing people making impossible choices and taking greater risks – making agonising choices like whether to keep their insurance, drive on bald tyres, buy medication or pay the utilities. Driven by desperation, some play the pokies trying to win the rent, pay the mortgage or feed their kids.

Let us follow Jesus’ example by reaching out to those in need.

In a world marked by doubt, despair and darkness, Easter hope offers the promise of a better future, a future in God’s hands, a future shaped by the light of an empty tomb.

Easter hope isn’t just content with ‘me’ and ‘mine’ but is a hope that should be shared. Easter hope – grounded in Jesus’ sacrificial love and his death-conquering resurrection, can cultivate in us empathy and compassion for our neighbours – to see their needs, extend our resources and time to meet them – to offer genuine friendship and connection.

Gathering friends and family for an Easter feast, whatever that looks like for you, can be a wonderful way to celebrate this special holiday.

Will you take up the opportunity to extend your table and hospitality to invite someone to share a meal, to share in a simple offer of connection and hope? Let us follow Jesus’ example by reaching out to those in need, working for justice and peace, and sharing God’s love with everyone we meet.

May God bless you and your loved ones this Easter and always.

Stu Cameron, CEO and Superintendent of Wesley Mission

Catholic Diocese of Sydney

In many ways, contemporary societies are deeply divided. Our politics are often polarised and social media vicious, the language is extreme, and it’s all or nothing. We can feel that not much has changed since that first Good Friday. Angry mobs still demand crucifixion, or cancellation. There seems to be no room for debate, for listening, persuading, and being persuaded, for the good kind of compromise. The language of tolerance and live-and-let-live has been replaced by totalising ideologies and loyalty groups.

It is into these deep divisions that the Easter message must be spoken anew. Easter is a season of contradictions: Violence and peace, heartache, and joy, light and darkness, death and resurrection. As he was dying on the cross, Jesus famously appealed on behalf of his persecutors: “Forgive them, Father – they know not what they do.” Jesus had already commanded his disciples to love their enemies, forgive endlessly, turn the other cheek. He wanted them to be known for their love of all, especially the weak and unloved.

He counselled them against storing grievances and counting up what they were owed. If they wanted to be children of the God who makes the rain fall on the good and bad alike, they had to stop dividing humanity into allies and foes. Everyone is either our friend already or a potential friend. And we want peace with them all.

Easter calls us to end our factions and hostilities.

Such Easter talk is as counter-cultural as ever. Easter calls us to end our factions and hostilities. “Enough now. Put away the sword. Peace be with you. My own peace I bequeath to you.” This does not mean we should cease our pursuit of truth. But our endeavours should always reflect a respect for the other person and goodwill towards them.

The empty tomb of Jesus was a sign of God’s victory over hatred, violence, death, over everything that diminishes the human person and community. Amor vincit omnia: love overcomes everything. That is, an authentic love overcomes, a self-sacrificing love, not a self-indulgent love. As Jesus rose glorious but still with the wounds of human cruelty, his followers are called to bring Easter redemption to every site of conflict and hurt. We join Jesus on the cross, in the tomb, and in glory saying “Forgive them, Father.”

Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney

Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines

Christian faith is established and based on Resurrection. The suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross was the pathway to Resurrection. Suffering was the way to destroy every stain we had because of the sin. With his suffering, he restored the human nature, and he brought it back to its pristine beauty. The fullness was with his resurrection “trembling down death by (his) death.” Passing through His crucifixion, we preach the resurrected Lord.

What our Lord Jesus Christ did, is for our sake, and he is still offering us his salvation. He comforted our hearts by saying: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” says the Lord (John 16: 33). It is the aim of his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection.

God became man to “wipe away every tear from their (our) eyes; there shall be no more death, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things have passed” (Revelation 21: 4).

May the Resurrected Lord grant you all a healthy and peaceful life crowned with faith and peace of mind and soul. Amen.

Metropolitan Basilios, Archbishop Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines

Catholic Church in Australia

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke the following words to his disciples on the night before he died:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me. (John 14:1).

It is not always easy to follow this advice given to us by Jesus. The many challenges we all face in our personal, family and community lives often overwhelm us. As is the case in so much of what we say about our Christian faith, our lived experience differs from the high ideals we profess. The reality for many of us, at least some of the time, is that we are afraid and uncertain. We can often feel as if God is not there or does not care.

This, in fact, is not the case. God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. The faith we seek and the peace which Jesus promises to give us are precious gifts, always on offer to us – but they are never forced upon us. It is good to remember that, in the context of telling his disciples not to have troubled hearts, Jesus goes on to remind them that he is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6).

In saying this, Jesus is suggesting that if we were to follow some other way rather than his, we might well get lost – and, as most of us know from experience, when we get lost, we easily become disoriented. We lose our bearings, wander around aimlessly and sometimes even begin to panic and despair. Keeping to his way, and returning to that way once we realise we have strayed, is our sure method for stilling our troubled hearts and receiving the Lord’s gift of peace.

Similarly, if we commit ourselves to some other truth rather than the truth which Jesus makes known to us about who he is, about who God is, and about who we are in relation to God, then we run the very real risk of building our lives on a mirage or, as Jesus would put it in the gospel, on shifting sands rather than on solid rock (Matt 7:24-27).

If we have to spend our lives struggling to maintain our balance because our foundations are so shaky, then we will not have untroubled hearts or that deep peace which is the Lord’s gift. And again, if we fail to unite ourselves with the Lord in such a way that our life is enriched and deepened by the presence of his life within us, the serenity and trust which enabled him to endure the opposition, the cruelty, and the violence of those who were determined to destroy him, will evade us. Our hearts will remain troubled, and they will not be at peace.

When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, his first words to them were, “Peace be with you” (John 20:20). Because of their love for him and because of the time they had spent with him, the disciples were able to receive his gift of peace and their lives were transformed. May this be our experience, too, as we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus this year.

Tim Costelloe, Archbishop of Perth,
President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins”. (1 Cor. 15:17)

Christ is risen; truly he is risen.

Our Lord and God Jesus Christ exclaims, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

We live in an increasingly secularised and religiously indifferent world. The notions of ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ no longer possess importance or centrality in the fabric of society but rather have been relegated to personal subjective belief. Indeed, rational reasoning has always been the stronger intellectual trait of the human person, and doubt, springing forth from the inability to transcend the limitations of rationalism, has served as an obstacle for the human person to perceive and acknowledge the eternal truth of God.

Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ recreates, refashions and renews the human person.

The resurrection of Christ, precisely as both reality and mystery, emphatically and unequivocally defies the limitations of human logic, transcends what is earthly, temporal, and corruptible, and existentially and spiritually raises us up to what is heavenly, eternal, and incorruptible. In and through the entire divine-human dispensation, the passion and death on the cross, and the resurrection from the dead, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ recreates, refashions and renews the human person according to the measure of his fullness (Eph. 4:13). It is to this “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) that we are called to embrace with all our heart in faith and love because this leads to the fullness of true life, which was established “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

Today, the Church proclaims with joy, “Christ is risen!” for a new reality has been inaugurated – “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). Indeed, the kingdom of God is ‘within us’ (Luke 17:21). Christ has “overcome the world” (John 16:33) and gathers “all things together in heaven and on earth” (Eph. 1:10) and calls each one of us to embrace and to be embraced by his absolute and boundless love. Let us, therefore, strive for true faith and genuine love for Christ, fulfilling his life-giving commandments, that we may be made worthy to receive the abundance of divine blessings and become partakers of the fullness of true life and joy, which are in Christ. In response to the question posed by Christ to each of us, “Do you believe this?”, may we exclaim with all our heart, soul, mind and strength: “Lord, I believe” (John 9:38).

Wishing all a blessed and joyous Easter.

Archbishop Makarios, Primate,
Greek Orthodox Church of Australia

The Salvation Army, Australia

Watching the news one morning, the reader said, “Freedom isn’t free, it costs”, and how true that statement is. Think of Wilberforce, Rosa Parkes, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jnr, Dorothy Height, Malala Yousafzai…and the list could go on.

Freedom is not free – it costs. It cost everything for Jesus – a painful death on a cross, in order to secure our freedom. Freedom from anything that might bind us up. Freedom through the cross. A most beautiful exchange. Freedom to live, for him and like him.

In these days, he continues to call us to…

1.     Get free … free from the sin that so easily enslaves. Free from anything that holds us back. Free from the thoughts that hold us. Freedom from anything that is not of him.

2.     Keep free. There was a warning for the Galatians. “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified”. Live in this big gospel. Do not believe the lies of the evil one. Keep free.

3.     Get someone else free. So many people need Jesus. The world needs Jesus. And that freedom could be salvation; it could mean that God has called you to make a stand on human trafficking, or for women who are oppressed, for children, for civil rights, or for those abused. People need freedom. People need Jesus.

We do not need to be concerned about our reputation. We live like and for Jesus. And the great news is that he rose again. His Spirit is in us, with us, for us.

Freedom is not free. It costs. Thank you, Jesus, for the price you paid. Thank you for the freedom you secured. May we live free in these days and see the salvation and transformation of your world.

Miriam Gluyas, Territorial Leader
The Salvation Army, Australia

Uniting Church in Australia

In the death and resurrection of Jesus is a call from God to life in Christ. It is a call from despair to hope, from evil to goodness, from shame to freedom, from sorrow to joy. We see this call as Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds it empty. Weeping for what has been lost, she sees a gardener who calls her name, “Mary”. Immediately, she recognises Jesus and is called out of her sorrow and back to life.

Recently, I gathered with other women leaders in the Uniting Church. We reflected together on what it means to have life in Christ. Rev Juliette Maua’i recalled a Samoan saying, “O Uo i aso uma, ae Uso i aso vale”, which means “there will be friends for each day, but it will be siblings (or kinsfolk) in days of adversity”. For Juliette, this saying is a reminder of the assurance that Christ is with us always, in times of hope and joy and in times of grief and hardship.

Christ is our sibling in our days of adversity. We are not alone.

Across our communities right now, there are many who encounter sorrow, despair, and adversity. People are struggling with rising costs of living, without the means to simply get by. As a nation, we are consumed by the threat of war, choosing armament rather than seeking ways to peace. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including LGBTQIA+ Christians, have been confronted by ideologies of hate and acts of intimidation. These fail to recognise God’s grace present in each of us. We see racism and a system which denies First Nations people of this land the right to self-determination and equality. Many people continue to experience violence and fear in intimate relationships, in spaces where they should know trust and safety.

The Easter story is a reminder that in all of this, Christ is with us. Christ is our sibling in our days of adversity. We are not alone.

The Easter story also calls us to become participants in the work of Christ in the world. Christ calls us to be bearers of hope and justice. We see this call in Peter, who in sharing a meal made by the risen Jesus, is called from the shame of betrayal to a life of loving service. Jesus calls us to seek a new way of living which makes space for all people so that all might know they are loved. We are called to transform racism into justice, to seek relationships of understanding and trust as a way to peace, to replace fear with safety and love.

The gift of resurrection life is the hope that we have in the transforming power of Christ and the assurance of new life in our own lives and in our world.

This Easter may you know life in Christ and may it bring the blessings of joy, peace and hope!

Sharon Hollis, Assembly President
Uniting Church in Australia