Messages from our churches speak to our Australian and world context in this year’s Easter Sunday celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection or rising from the dead after being crucified or put to death on the day called Good Friday. This year, the Western Churches will celebrate Easter on Sunday 17 April and the Orthodox and Oriental Churches will celebrate Easter on Sunday 22 April. Easter marks the foundation of Christianity.
‘He is Risen’
The dynamics of life can be complex. Good things happen and matters that are not so good also happen. The causes for both can be hard to fathom.
These past months have seen an unfolding of differing tragedies in the Ukraine, Tigray, the Middle East, and other places as well. The images of the way warfare impacts on people are with us every evening. It can be overwhelming. Peace can seem impossible. Alongside this is the reality of natural disasters in Australia. The flooding in New South Wales and Queensland, and the reality of bushfires, serve to remind us of the fragility of life, even on our own doorstep. Disaster is not far away – it is close at hand.
War and natural disasters remove and dislocate people from their homes and community. In the Ukraine, we have seen many people crossing borders in search of safety and community. People impacted by flooding are similarly dislocated. The need for shelter, security and dignity is one all of humanity shares.
Within Australia, the experience of dispossession and dislocation continues to impact on Australia’s First Peoples’ sense of home and identity. The invitation offered in the Statement from the Heart has not been received in the spirit of hope with which it was offered.
Easter brings us to the foundation of deep and lasting hope and grace.
The journey that Jesus takes to the cross is one marked by an unfair trial, injustice, persecution, and vilification. Death, without compassion or care, is the result. Apart from the women, those around Jesus give up and flee. This is a picture of despair.
Yet it is not the full picture, because through the despair rises a hope so deep and wonderful that those who experience it can only cry, with absolute joy, ‘He is Risen’. This is a celebration of life that comes victorious out of the journey of Jesus’ pain and suffering.
At Easter, we remember and give thanks for this reality. Life is victorious over death! In this we have hope in the midst of seasons of despair and uncertainty. This depth of hope is not the result of a motivational speech – it is the promise of the living presence of Jesus, alive and with us, in every circumstance and in every place.
Rev John Gilmore, President
National Council of Churches in Australia
For more information, contact the NCCA Secretariat on 9299 2215.
Download the Easter Messages from Australian Church Leaders
Anglican Church of Australia
The situation looked very grim for Jesus’ disciples that first Easter.
Jesus had been arrested, shamefully treated, and killed. The last thing they expected was his resurrection, and yet that’s what happened, and that’s what we celebrate each Sunday and especially at Easter.
Jesus’ resurrection brought hope and possibility and pointed ultimately to the new creation God is bringing to the whole world.
This Easter season finds many people around the world in grim situations.
Ukrainians continue to suffer due to the Russian invasion of their country. Millions of other people, especially in Europe, are suffering due to higher fuel and food costs because of Russia’s action. There are other wars and conflicts where people are suffering, among them South Sudan, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.
Here in Australia, many communities are being impacted by floods and the ongoing effects of climate change are felt all around the world. Covid 19 continues to rage everywhere.
You’d have to say that for many of the world’s population, things may look hopeless. And without the resurrection they would be. But because of it, there is hope.
Hope of change and renewal. Hope that light will come from dark. Hope that the kingdom of God will be revealed.
And in the meantime, God will continue to give strength as we turn to him and trust him.
The death of Jesus on the cross showed the depth of God’s love for the whole world and brought the hope of forgiveness and reconciliation between God and humanity.
The resurrection of Jesus proved that Jesus is Messiah, saviour, and ended the hold of death over creation. We continue to wait for the revealing of all the fruit of Easter, but we wait as people filled with hope because of what happened.
The despair of the disciples was transformed to joy when they realised Jesus was raised from the dead. May we be filled with joy as we celebrate Easter and look forward its fruit in our world.
The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Primate
Anglican Church of Australia
Archdiocese of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines
Christ is risen, Truly He is risen!
I cordially congratulate you with the greatest and the most glorious of all feasts, with the beginning of the New Life, with the Spiritual Spring, with the triumph and victory over death, the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In these times in which we are living, filled with many sorrows, the only comfort for all of us is our Holy Faith, with its real promises, radiant hope, its expectations which bring peace to the soul.
May the joy of the Paschal Feast fill your life with all that God truly desires for us, the heavenly and everlasting gifts that are truly not of this world.
His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios, Archbishop
Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines
Catholic Church in Australia
Easter isn’t once upon a time: it’s here and now or nowhere and never. That’s why it’s never in a vacuum.
This year we light the Easter fire in unusually dark times. First, we had the pandemic everywhere, and that seemed bad enough. Lives were lost, the social fabric frayed, and the economy was hit hard. We saw the powers of death at work in ways we’d never seen before. Then we had floods in this part of the world. Again, lives were lost, homes were destroyed, and property devastated. On top of all that we now have the genocidal war in Ukraine, with world peace looking more fragile than it’s looked for a long time. The powers of death which so ravaged Europe in the last century have returned in a horrific way.
Here, then, is the context of this year’s Easter celebration.
As we gather to light the Easter fire in the darkness, we proclaim that out of the pandemic, the floods and the war new life can come and will come, just as Jesus walked from the tomb into every time and place.
That’s the hope which nothing and no-one can destroy.
That’s the truth of Easter.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane,
President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
We Saw Jesus
The content of the Christian faith is founded on the witness of those hundreds of disciples who saw Jesus in his glorified body after he rose from the dead. Without that beginning, we could not seek or make sense of the personal faith that God gives to those who ask and receive. Since Jesus ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit among us, it is only through faith now that we meet him in prayer, scripture, sacraments, the faces of the poor and, together, as the community that bears his name.
But the Church began because of witnesses who boldly proclaimed, “We saw Jesus.” That is why I was immediately struck by an entry in our annual Catholic schools Easter art exhibition displaying the words Hear our voices. We saw Jesus. Looking more closely, and reading the explanation of the artist, Keira Hauville, we see that the witnesses depicted are women. They were the first to discover the empty tomb, and hear the words of the angel “Why are you seeking the living among the dead?” And then, the one who went back to the tomb, his close friend Mary of Magdala, was the first disciple to meet the risen Lord.
The picture is entitled The Women In Jesus’ Life, and invites us to consider the ways that Jesus respected and valued women, against the conventions of his time and culture, in which their witness was not accepted as reliable.
Of course, even the men who proclaimed “We saw Jesus” were not always believed. The picture could also be read as pointing to the courage of Christians, female and male, who would not be silenced, in the face of mockery or worse persecutions, from announcing that Jesus is alive and forgiveness and eternal life can be found in him.
May the new life of Easter fill you with faith, hope and love; and a voice to speak about Jesus.
Bishop Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst
Chinese Methodist Church in Australia
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is at the heart of the entire Christian faith. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. He has become the power for believers to live and serve today. More importantly, he will become the hope of God’s people in eternity because the Lord will return and establish an eternal and glorious kingdom. Hence, Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain, and your belief is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
Today, as we firmly believe that Christ is truly resurrected, we can be confident and strong, faithfully and courageously bearing witness to the truth, spreading the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and complete the mission that He has given us.
Since Jesus is the risen Lord, He will also come again for this is what His has promised. When the Lord returns, every believer will have to give an account to Him. Will we be happy to see the Lord, or will we feel ashamed to see the Lord? Will we be praised and rewarded, or will we be rebuked and shamed before the Lord’s judgment seat? It all depends on whether we work faithfully before the Lord’s return.
Bishop Albert Wong
Chinese Methodist Church in Australia
Churches of Christ
The ravages of COVID this past two years, distress over the Ukraine War more recently, and countless other newsworthy concerns all offer ongoing reminders that we live in a world marred by sin.
At its most basic level, sin represents the choices of people to live apart from the will of the very God who desires to strengthen our lives. Sin typically has a negative impact on ourselves or others, but it also severs our intimate connection with the one who has created us to live in relationship with him forever.
Naturally, a perfect God must judge sin perfectly and yet Heaven accepts imperfect people who must therefore be free of sin. God’s forgiveness is necessary, but justice makes this possible only because Jesus took that sin upon himself. As the Apostle Paul says, Jesus who knew no sin of his own became sin for us so that we might be made righteous in him.
Easter celebrates the fact that Christ died for our sin by taking it upon himself to his undeserved death. He was fully human so as to qualify as our substitute, but he was fully divine so as to be free of sin and therefore to be eligible to pay for ours.
The Resurrection of Jesus celebrates the fact that he not only paid for sin, but fully overcome its power. His conquest became our gift, one that must be received personally by yielding in repentance and an ongoing dependence upon the one who rescues us from eternal death.
Many struggle to accept such a Resurrection as plausible. This is despite 500 witnesses being unable to be silenced. It is despite hostile testimony from Jewish and Roman writers of the time. It is also despite substantial archaeological evidence verifying the reliability of the Bible. The consequences of its acceptance or rejection are of everlasting significance.
Ultimately, though, we choose to believe with evidence beyond reasonable doubt, not evidence beyond all doubt. We believe in faith and such belief also ushers us into faith, one that is more than merely religious. It is a lifestyle of dependence upon a Saviour who also seeks to be the very Lord whom we serve with the love, grace, humility, and compassion that still transforms lives today.
Dr. Rob Nyhuis – National Chair,
Churches of Christ Council in Australia
Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions
Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!!
It is my pleasure to wish all of you the blessings of the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection, in which we celebrate the resurrection and victory of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as our liberation from the bondage to evil and death.
The procession of Christ’s victory is the procession of His suffering, by which He was triumphant over Satan. Our Lord Jesus Christ walked the road of the Passion, which began with His arrest on the eve of Friday.
It was followed by his trials and sufferings, which He endured until the crucifixion. From the outside, it all appeared as if the following was happening: the soldiers were leading our Lord Christ, Pilate sent Him to Herod, the chief priests and scribes judged Him, Pilate ordered to hand Him over to be crucified, the soldiers scourged and mocked Him and then took Him to Golgotha to be crucified.
However, this sorrowful but joyful procession was not, in fact, under human control; it was truly under divine control, because Christ, the Incarnate God, accepted suffering by His own will. Pilate said to Christ, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:10-11).
Our Lord Jesus Christ said about Himself, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18).
The procession of the Passion of Christ is the procession of His victory, because by death He trampled down death, rose from the dead victorious over death, and liberated mankind from Satan’s dominion. Christ is calling us to walk in the procession of His triumph; and indeed He is always leading us in this joyful procession.
Let us rejoice in our Living Christ, who always leads us in the procession of His triumph, regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
We are always peaceful and assured that our life is not in human hands, but in the hands of our Living, strong, and powerful Christ, who died, resurrected and lives to rule over the living and the dead.
May our risen Lord bless and protect Australia and the whole world.
Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Sydney & Affiliated Regions
Greek Orthodox Church of Australia
“Christ is Risen; Truly He is Risen”
The mystery of Jesus Christ is truly ‘great and paradoxical’. Out of His absolute love, the Only Begotten Son and Word of God the Father, who is true and perfect God, self-emptied Himself and became true and perfect man. In appropriating to Himself the fullness of human nature, that is, mind, soul and body, apart from sin, Christ recreates and renews the human person, and indeed all creation visible and invisible. The “width and length and depth and height” (Eph. 3:18) of the mystery of Christ our Saviour, and of His boundless love is fundamentally seen in His life-giving passion and death on the cross that “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and in His glorious resurrection which restores the human person to their ‘original beauty’ that is, it refashions them anew in the image and likeness of God.
The resurrection of Jesus is not a mere symbol or metaphor, but a reality historically accomplished by Christ “once for all” (Jude 1:3) for the salvation of the world. Although, the expectation of the ‘resurrection of the dead’ will be eschatologically fulfilled in the age to come in the Heavenly Kingdom, by the grace of God, the first-fruits of the power of the resurrection embraces our entire existence ‘here and now’. Truly we are given the possibility to participate existentially and spiritually “in part” (1 Cor. 13:9) in its deifying and saving grace in and through our faith and love towards Christ, and our union with Him as members of His holy Church, His mystical body.
Today, the Church exclaims and proclaims the joyful message of salvation to the entire world: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life”. How wondrous are the works of God! Christ who is the source of life, and life itself, “overcomes the world” John 16:33), and destroys corruptibility and death, and through His very own resurrection from the dead, raises us up to true and everlasting life. Let us then open our minds and hearts to Christ our Saviour, let us be embraced by the radiant light of His resurrection that leads to true joy, the fullness of divine love and life eternal.
Wishing you a blessed and joyous Easter,
Archbishop MAKARIOS, Primate,
Greek Orthodox Church of Australia
Lutheran Church of Australia
Sisters and Brothers in Christ, of the Christian Churches in Australia,
Grace and peace in Christ to you.
I bring you Easter Greetings from the people of the Lutheran Communities in Australia and New Zealand. The Lord is Risen indeed. Hallelujah.
In our contemporary COVID19 world, there has been a lot of conversation about “pivot points”. English writer J.R.R. Tolkein coined the phrase “eucatastrophe” to describe a “pivot point” where a story takes a turn for “good”.
He went on to say, “The birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of man’s (sic) history. The resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy.”
God bless your joyful witness to this “pivot point” of our human story. The Lord is Risen.
Your fellow in Christ,
Bishop Paul Smith
Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
The presence of still water
Words enter us in powerful ways. Beautiful words restore the spirit. Words spoken with love and kindness enter, remain, and heal hurts within us. We may live our days differently carrying these words within us.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The Peace of Wild Things
May the Easter experience include the presence of still water and time to rest in the grace of the world.
Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk
Religious Society of Friends in Australia (Quakers)
The Salvation Army, Australia
There are times when it feels as though the world moves from one tragic event to another. It’s certainly felt that way recently. Sometimes our personal lives can feel like that, too. But even in the midst of that hardship and heartache, there is a message of good news and hope. For The Salvos, that hope is found in Jesus and revealed to us through the Easter story.
Coming into Easter this year, our country has faced devastating natural disasters like floods and bushfires, the continual rise of the cost of living, and the enduring threat of COVID-19. For some, there has been little to hope for.
But as we look to Easter, we see the hope of the world manifested in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we reflect on the events of the very first Easter two thousand years ago, we see it as a time that embodies the message of hope after hardship.
When Jesus died on a cross on Good Friday, all hope seemed lost for all who followed Him. But the story didn’t end there.
On Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the grave into new life. From the devastation and tragedy came hope and joy, and this hope can be with us today. We believe that God can take our tragedy and turn it into joy. He can offer us a path to hope.
Research undertaken for The Salvation Army late last year revealed a quarter of Australians were worried and stressed about their mental health. Other research, among people who had received emergency relief from The Salvos, showed that many of them did not feel valued (43 per cent) or loved (36 per cent). Figures like this break our hearts. We do not want anyone to feel this way because we believe everyone is valuable and loved.
This is what urges us to continue working towards our vision as The Salvation Army to “live, love and fight, alongside others, to transform Australia one life at a time with the love of Jesus.”
This Easter, we want to encourage you to seek support from your local Salvos. Whether you need someone to talk to, a place to develop meaningful relationships or somewhere to find spiritual connection, we are here for you. We can also provide practical support if your current situation is weighing you down.
Last April, The Salvation Army’s Moneycare financial services provided nearly 4800 sessions of care and our Doorways Emergency Relief services provided more than 20,000 sessions of care to people in need. Hope is available.
We encourage you to take action this Easter and seek comfort in God’s hope and love. No situation you are facing is too difficult for God to handle. We invite you to visit your local Salvos church this Easter to celebrate this wonderful gift. For more information, go to salvationarmy.org.au/Easter
Commissioners Janine and Robert Donaldson,
The Salvation Army, Australia Contact Media Relations Department on (02) 94663143)
Uniting Church in Australia
This Easter, we find ourselves living in a world beset by war and famine. Across the country, many have been devastated by flood. We continue to experience the effects of inaction on climate change.
At this time, I have been reflecting on the Easter Vigil service. The service is held on Saturday night, between Good Friday and Easter Day. It begins in the dark outside.
As we gather, we are reminded of the death of Jesus at the hands of a violent government, the death of all the hopes for what Jesus might be and do. We recollect the grief of those who watched him die, the women, the beloved disciple. We recall those who betrayed and denied Jesus and are hoping for a way back.
A fire is lit. Light is passed from person to person with the cry – Christ is Risen: He is risen indeed. The light grows, darkness retreats, new life is glimpsed.
This simple but powerful ritual trains me to live in hope and notice Christ at work in the world.
Amid the challenges we have endured, it can be hard to live with hope. After two years of living with COVID, we are worn out. Whole communities have been gripped by bushfire and now flood. We know stronger action must be taken to protect our planet, yet still we wait. Globally we fear the loss of peace in our world, millions of people in Ukraine displaced, now seek refuge, long for an end to the war.
It can be hard to notice where Christ is at work amid all the suffering. Yet, in the face of darkness, there is life.
I see the hope of Easter in communities of believers who seek God’s reign. In those whose daily life bears witness to the risen Christ.
I see Easter hope when I hear about ordinary people who have opened their homes to refugees from Ukraine. The many symbolic acts of solidarity across the world and the courageous acts of people in Ukraine and Russia who are calling for peace.
In Australia I see Easter hope in those who rallied together to support rescue efforts through the floods, in boats, skis, whatever watercraft they could find, to rescue those threatened by rising waters and to deliver emergency supplies.
I see Easter hope in the chaplains from the Uniting Church and other denominations and faiths who are providing a reassuring presence to those who have found their lives turned upside down.
I see Easter hope in the work of our agencies and in the witness of our communities of faith who every day seek to bring hope to others. In their commitment to care for the poor, acting with kindness and compassion, accompanying those who are sorrowing, suffering or despairing, confronting evil, working for justice, healing creation and finding beauty.
I see Easter faith in communities that seek justice and repair of creation. In our young people who call for action because they feel responsible for the generations to come.
This is a faith that takes seriously death, evil and suffering. A faith that forms community to resist evil and comfort the suffering. A faith that through the body of the risen Christ – seeks the transformation of the world for abundant life.
At the Easter Vigil service, once the candles are lit we settle in for readings from the Hebrew scriptures reminding us of God’s goodness. We recall our baptism. We hear the story of the women who were the first witnesses to the resurrection. Then in sharing bread and wine we are fed for the journey by the presence of the risen One.
I am reminded of the power of life in the face of darkness, revealed to us in Christ’s self-giving love, reflected in daily acts of mercy, faith, joy and love.
Rev Sharon Hollis, President
Uniting Church in Australia (Media Contact: Rebecca Beisler 0450790218)
Australian Baptist Ministries
The ‘In Between’ Day
Easter Saturday is the ‘in between’ day. It sits awkwardly between Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross, and Easter Sunday, the day He rose to life again.
For the original followers of Jesus it was a day of uncertainty and grief. On the first Easter Saturday they didn’t know how events would resolve. They had to live in the uncertain space ‘in between’.
I am glad that Jesus didn’t die one hour and rise the next, even though He could have. Yes, a quick death and rapid resurrection would satisfy today’s need for a storyline that could be resolved before the next ad break.
Depending on your view, the ‘in between’ Saturday might see you focusing on the death of Jesus, that it was a horrible, but necessary way to overcome the power of death once and for all. Or, you might be one of the optimistic and positive people who look forward to Sunday and celebrating that Jesus rose from the dead and delivered on the promise of eternal life. Another possibility is that you don’t care if some guy died a long time ago and you just want to enjoy the holidays.
No matter which way you look at it, Easter Saturday is filled with contrasts. It’s the ‘in between’ day that stares you in the face and says, “God is not finished yet!”
So how has your Easter been so far? Has it lived up to your expectations or crashed and burned? The good news is that God isn’t finished with you yet and, frankly, it doesn’t matter what your expectations are of this or any other Easter. His death and resurrection has drawn every storyline – including yours – to a conclusion.
Our feelings about Easter do not and cannot alter God’s plan for you in Jesus’ resurrection. He has paid the price for your life and bought eternity with Him as a gift. He has created a storyline with the ultimate finale. The only part left to be resolved is whether you will accept the gift. What will your response be this Easter Saturday?
Rev Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director
Australian Baptist Ministries
Australian Christian Churches
Most people around the world will be familiar with the symbol of the cross. It’s displayed on churches and Bible covers, or worn on chains around necks. It’s the universal symbol of Christianity.
It’s familiar, even in a secular world. The association of the cross with Good Friday – the day that Jesus was crucified – is recognised as an historic event. Every year, Easter is a reminder of this pivotal moment; yet many people stop there; thinking that what they are familiar with or accustomed to, is where it ends.
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
Consider these final words of Jesus before He died on the cross. This wasn’t simply another human life that was put to death at the hands of the Roman Empire. At that time, crosses with crucified bodies were a common sight; a public spectacle to remind suppressed people of the might of Rome.
The crucifixion of Jesus was a once-in-a-lifetime act of love that has impacted all humankind ever since. The sacrifice of God’s Son who exchanged His life for ours.
Let’s never let our familiarity with the Easter story, rob us of the meaning behind this significant season. The Easter story is not where it ends – it is all about a new beginning. The cross was a finish line, signifying an end to the weight of sin and painful past – but it is also a starting line, for a new, revitalised life of promise, blessing and restoration.
May I encourage you this Easter to push beyond any familiar, comfortable traditions. Look beyond the cross and begin to discover the joy and vitality of the resurrection life, available to us all through Jesus, Saviour and Lord of all.
Pastor Wayne Alcorn, National President
Australian Christian Churches –Released 1 April 2022
Seventh-day Adventist Church Australia
Peace and Hope
As we live in today’s volatile and hostile world, we are constantly inundated with heartbreaking and devastating news. Many disasters are happening around the world that we have no control over, and they are impacting us directly and indirectly.
It feels like we cannot catch a break, and feelings of apprehension and fear are palpable.
Where can you go and what can you do to have peace and hope in such a time as this?
When Jesus came to this earth, He proclaimed that He was not here to steal, kill or destroy, but to give life and give it abundantly (John 10:10). He kept this promise when He died and was resurrected, conquering the grave and conquering sin.
He is our comforter, our provider, our mediator, our redeemer, our friend, and our Saviour.
In times like this, when we feel uncertain and scared, we can turn to Him for peace and hope.
Peace in knowing that we have someone there to take care of us and comfort us, and hope in the fact that this is not our final home. We have eternal life, made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice, waiting for us when all this pain and suffering ends.
As we come into Easter, I pray that you will take the time to meditate on what Jesus did for you. He loves you and He cares for you. He knows the rollercoaster of emotions you are going through because of the state of the world, and He is waiting for you to give Him your burdens, your fears, and your doubts in return for peace and hope.
Pastor Terry Johnson, President
Seventh-day Adventist Church Australia