This week's reflection on John 6:9 has been prepared by Rev Sue Ellis for the Moderator's 40 Days of Prayer (14 May - 22 June) to celebrate the Uniting Church in Australia's 40th anniversary.
We need Easter faith
By Rev Jennifer Hughes
Posted in Faith
Jesus was murdered. By whom? By authorities, by power, by fear, by hate. Not by us.
Jesus is murdered. By whom? By consumption, by greed, by power, by fear, by hate. Every time the innocent is trampled, harmed, exploited Jesus is murdered again. By us. This time I find myself complicit in Christ’s death.
This is why we need Easter. This is why Easter requires us to experience Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Warren Carter, the Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School in Texas, reflects that the Gospel of Matthew has an emphasis on God’s presence with us. Matthew is the Gospel that brings us the message that the child to be born will be “Emmanuel – God is with us”. Matthew is also the Gospel that ends with the imperative: “remember, I am with you always”. The gospel of Matthew is bookended by the promise of God’s presence. Implied in this reminder of God's presence is the recognition that, at times, God feels absent.
Good Friday is the day when with eyes wide open we can recognise places in our own lives and in our world where it feels God is absent. To have faith in God’s presence on such a day requires the strongest faith imaginable.
This is Good Friday faith.
In 1999, I stayed up all night on New Year’s Eve, ready to greet the new millennium. I imagined bright rays bringing colour to the sky, beautiful bird song, some life-changing epiphany. Instead, the sky turned a murky grey, the birds were silent, and I curled up to go to sleep.
It was early dawn when the women came to the tomb. I wonder why it was so early. Was it because they were afraid of the authorities and wanted to embalm the body before there was any trouble? Was there an urgency because of Jewish law? They couldn’t embalm the body the day before because it was the Sabbath so it had to wait. Maybe it was early because none of them had slept after such traumatic events. Maybe they had been replaying events of the last weeks, months and years…
On this early morning, the women lean forward, determined in their task, comforting each other in their grief. They come to the tomb and Jesus is not there. He is risen. He is already risen.
This is Easter Sunday hope.
Christ is risen and whether the new day bursts forth with beauty or slowly creeps in like a murky grey dawn. Christ is already risen. This is the assurance, the declaration, of Easter Sunday. Hope will always be present. Love will always be stronger than death.
This is Easter Sunday faith.
This year, perhaps as much as ever before, our world needs Easter faith – Good Friday and Easter Sunday faith. This is the good news that invites our church to sing and to celebrate. This is the good news that changes lives, communities and the world. And this is the good news that sometimes creeps in and that sometimes bursts forth.
To this we say: Alleluia!
Image: This artwork, titled “Sleepwalkers”, was created by Uniting Church SA member Karan Hudson. This work will be displayed along with others at the Life @ Death Easter Exhibition at Gallery One in Mitcham until the show’s closure on Thursday 13 April.
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