The eternal hope in a world of despair

Easter messages this year focus on the hopelessness and despair we feel in the face of war, injustice and violence and the hope and transformation that can be found in Christ’s resurrection, not only for individuals but through their work in the world. Eternity brings you edited extracts from the Easter messages of Australian denominational leaders in 2024.

Western Churches celebrate Easter on Sunday, 31 March, with the Orthodox and Oriental Churches celebrating Easter on Sunday, 5 May.

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney

There is passionate debate in our society right now about social media and trust. When you look at your screen, can you trust what you are reading and seeing? And as artificial intelligence gives us the technology to fake just about anything, finding reality will become even harder. In the events of the first Easter – the question was the same. Everyone knew that Jesus lived a remarkable life and was cruelly executed. But could they trust what they were being told – that he had risen from the dead? There was no live streaming, no social media influencers.

Kanishka Raffel

But there were eyewitnesses. The Bible tells the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus, spoke to him, and even ate with him. Two thousand years after the first Easter we are still faced with the question – is Jesus alive and can we trust him with our lives? His offer of forgiveness and new life is worthless if we can’t and priceless if it is true. Millions of Christians around the world, me among them, have trusted Jesus and found joy, love and hope in him. That is my prayer for you this Easter. May God bless you.

Kanishka Raffel, Archbishop of Sydney

For full message and video, click here.

National Council of Churches

‘He is Risen’

There is much cause for despair at the moment. There seems no end to the conflict in Gaza and peace with justice seems remote. The war in the Ukraine continues and other conflicts are ongoing, and the language used by some world leaders gives little encouragement and hope.

Yet Easter is a powerful story of hope.

The darkness and suffering of Good Friday and the lack of compassion and justice in the death of Jesus are addressed in the resurrection. God’s final word is life! Death and suffering do not have the final say, and Jesus’ continuing living presence is the foundation of our hope.

John Gilmore, President National Council of Churches in Australia

Anglican Church of Australia

The resurrection is seriously cosmos-changing, and its gospel (gospel means surprisingly wonderful news) is worth embracing and sharing. What we see now in the world is not what it will be. What we do now to spread resurrection life and push back the many manifestations of death as ambassadors of the risen one will make a difference for many people and in fact the whole creation.

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

Catholic Church in Australia

We can easily be overwhelmed when we see the horrors which continue to unfold in Ukraine, in the Holy Land and in the wider Middle East, in Sudan, in Myanmar and in so many other places around the world. We can shake our heads in desperation as we encounter more and more homeless people living on the streets … and read stories of increasing violence and disruption in our schools.

Easter reminds us that the triumph of Jesus over the powers of hatred and evil offers a powerful antidote to all this. It is the gift and the promise of a new and better way to live. It is a source of hope and equally a call to action. If we, as members of the Christian community in our society, commit ourselves to taking the gospel of Jesus seriously and set ourselves to walk in his Way … we will be a powerful force, not only for good but for transformation and renewal in our wider community.

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

Chinese Methodist Church in Australia

Eternal hope

For 2,000 years, the reality of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ has been questioned. One of the purposes of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church around 51 AD was to affirm the fact of the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus compelled the disciples to share what they had seen, touched, and experienced. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus answered the question of where people come from and where they are going. The Lord Jesus rose from the dead, conquered death, and proved that he is the Son of God, the living God. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus shows that he is the only Saviour of the world. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus proves that trusting him is one of the best decisions we can make in life.

Milton Nee, Bishop of Chinese Methodist Church in Australia

Churches of Christ in Australia

Why the resurrection matters

Why is Christ’s resurrection necessary for human redemption, and why does he assert that he is the only path to God? Our greatest pitfall is that every one of us is born into sin, a state of separation from God (and not the accumulation of wrongdoing). This inevitably imperils our future beyond death. Our greatest opportunity is to be rescued from this sin for the greatest possible joy in this life and the next.

The Bible speaks of two possible destinations which are both eternal. Entry into either depends on what we do with the gift of Jesus. This is a challenge in an age of scepticism, yet the harmony of the biblical text, its archaeological support, and its transformation of countless lives still attest to the Bible’s truth claims.

Jesus is the source of a life of freedom and breakthrough that we can never have without him. This makes every day an Easter celebration of life with Christ … We are afforded a choice as to how we will live and where we will ultimately reside. And eternity is such a long time!

Rob Nyhuis – National Chair, Churches of Christ Council in Australia

Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions

The problem of death

The resurrection of Christ solved the problem of death. Death was terrifying, and it was the greatest and last enemy of man because it simply leads to the unknown; that is, it leads to hell. But when the Lord Christ rose from death, he abolished the effect of death and solved the problem of death.

The resurrection of Christ solved the problem of despair and gave us hope. Hope is a confident waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promises; no matter how dim the darkness is, hope is absolute trust in God’s promises…

The resurrection solved the problem of pain … The view of the martyrs about pain is completely different from the view of Job and all the men of the Old Testament, and the reason is simply the resurrection of Christ. We find the martyrs endured pain, but rather rejoiced because of the belief in the resurrection of Christ.

Abanoub, Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Melbourne & Affiliated Regions

Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions

The Feast of the Resurrection is also called “Pascha,” which means “to pass over.” Through the resurrection, Christ passed over from death to life, and in turn, allowed us to pass over from death to life.

Let us rejoice as we pass over with our Risen Christ. Let us pray for all suffering and weary souls so our Lord may shine upon them with the life-giving light of his glorious resurrection and fill their hearts with joy.

Daniel Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Sydney & Affiliated Regions

Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia & New Zealand

Christ is risen

Every year, we pray for a peaceful world where people can live and create in harmony. However, wars, strife, famine, and pandemics bring havoc and endanger the very existence of humanity. As Christians, we are few, but as a little salt gives taste to the whole food, so we can transform the world. It is our mission to preserve this world and make it a peaceful habitat for all, so “Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. (Ephesians 6:14)

Haigazoun Najarian, Primate Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia & New Zealand

Greek Orthodox Church of Australia

“In this world, you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) … This is the power and grace of the resurrection, that by “remaining in the love” of Christ (John 15:9), his “joy will be in us, making our joy complete” (John 15:11). Let us therefore open our heart to the overflowing love and compassion of Christ. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by his love, to be transformed by his love, and to share his love, for then “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Makarios, Primate, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

Lutheran Church of Australia

We need Easter – hope in uncertain times.

Being in a stadium at major sports events is an awesome experience. If you have ever been to a grand final … you are caught up in the overwhelming cheering of the crowd when your team scores a win. This is the experience of Easter joy. Where there was death, there was now life and hope. What [the disciples] thought was an ending was now a new beginning. This joy has carried Christians to the ends of the earth, sharing this good news.

It is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all of life has new meaning. We do not need to despair in the face of uncertain times. The Risen Lord promised to be with us always, that we might always live as people of hope.

Paul Smith, Bishop of Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

On 14 February, I walked a little of the “Gaza Pilgrimage” in Melbourne. This was an opportunity for people of faith to come together by walking a distance roughly equivalent to the distance from Gaza City to Rafah. The idea was to pray for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians facing relentless attacks from the Israeli Defence Forces.

We were a diverse group but had a commitment to nonviolence and a sense of hope that a just peace might still be possible, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. The Easter story asks us to hold onto that same hope for a better world, even when there’s no certainty that change is possible. It asserts that life goes on even after the worst possible things have happened and that love can overcome hatred or fear … We are called to help build peace in whatever ways we can.

Bruce Henry, Presiding Clerk Religious Society of Friends in Australia (Quakers)

 The Salvation Army, Australia Territory

Hope rising

When the disciples saw Jesus hanging on the cross, they wondered what was going to happen to them, to others. Hope was low. Faith was low. Until they realised that he wasn’t dead. On the third day, he rose again! He was alive. He appeared to them. Hope was back.

It seems that people lack hope right now. Wars, natural disasters, moral dilemmas, grief, pain. Many people wonder what is coming next, how they will get through. Hope lost. And yet, Jesus, with us, for us. Hope giver. Hope bringer. May the Hope of the world be just that for each of us at this Easter time.

Miriam Gluyas, Territorial Commander The Salvation Army Australia Territory

Uniting Church in Australia

Mark’s Gospel’s Easter Day story begins in the early morning. The women disciples who had stayed with Jesus throughout his crucifixion come to the tomb to anoint the dead body of their friend and teacher. They come in love, without hope, not even sure how they will move the stone to get to Jesus’ body. The story is drenched with grief, death and betrayal. It does not turn away from the trauma that follows Jesus’ death.

Nor does [Mark] avoid the failings of those around Jesus as he dies. This story is for all of us and for our broken world today. It’s for those who are grieving, for the boastful, those who enact violence and those who suffer violence. For the broken humanity in each of us, the good news of resurrection life is proclaimed.

God’s resurrection grace keeps being offered, over and over again, drawing us into awe-filled silence for all we are given. In a world so desperate for hope, we are offered the same grace, good news and new life as the first disciples.

Sharon Hollis, President Uniting Church in Australia Assembly

Australian Baptist Ministries

The resurrection of Jesus Christ began a new era when all people can meet God one-on-one! You are the reason he became a man, suffered and died on a cross. He loves you that much, even if it doesn’t feel that way to you. Perhaps the greatest words in history, “It is finished,” were spoken by Jesus Christ as he was dying on the cross. What he finished enables you to have the opportunity to know God and his mercy, forgiveness and love. Forever.

This Easter, I invite you to explore what Jesus finished and how it can be the start of something that will change your life forever.

Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director Australian Baptist Ministries

Australian Christian Churches

Three powerful words

Three powerful days in the history of humankind. Consider the innocent Son of God, hanging on a cruel Roman Cross, who uttered three words as he took his final breath: “It is finished” (John 19:30). What did Jesus mean by those words? Quite simply, he terminated the requirement that human endeavours enable us to enter into a relationship with God. All our efforts to be acceptable to God are in vain. The act of Divine love that put Jesus Christ on that cross is enough. All we need to do is accept that, by faith, Jesus paid the price for our eternal life, once and for all.

Wayne Alcorn

Wayne Alcorn speaks to Bible Society Australia staff

Three words on Good Friday gave us eternal life, and on the third day, three more words gave us the reason for our hope in him. They are, “He is risen.” (Matthew 28:6).

Through his death, he gave us life, and through his resurrection, he gave us hope. At a time when life seems filled with stress, uncertainty and anxiety, we have peace that comes from a confidence that we are accepted, forgiven and loved by God. May these three words bring you closer to our living and loving God this Easter.

Wayne Alcorn, National President Australian Christian Churches

For the full messages from the churches below, click here.