Conveying the meaning of Easter to people unfamiliar with the story is a job for all Christians, but it can be a challenge. Rev Matt O’Donoghue explores.
Easter is my favourite part of the church calendar. It’s just so rich in ways to express ourselves in worship.
Everything from a sombre Tenebrae service on Maundy Thursday through to joyous messy church celebrations on Resurrection Sunday; Easter offers us so much for engaging with our faith. We do all this because Easter is the time for us to celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ.
How we understand Easter and the good news is a major part in how we understand who God is. When we look at the ministry that takes Jesus to the cross, we are exposed to just how much our creator desires a relationship with us. As Jesus travels from Galilee to Gethsemane every story reveals to us a little bit more about who God is, until at the end while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It’s in this image of self-sacrifice to the greatest extreme that we realise just who God is. A God of love so powerful that he would go to any length to find us. But while we in the church celebrate this richness of faith, for the outside world Easter is all about chocolate eggs and hot cross buns.
So how does the good news that we celebrate at Easter make sense outside of our church walls?
Some try to reclaim Easter by reclaiming the meaning of a hot cross bun. They believe that if we can make something the public likes mean something, then that will help them to understand Easter. Others go the other way, and bring chocolate eggs and treats into their church, trying to show that we’re not different from other people and they can find a place with us.
But perhaps nothing says “good news” like how churches across Australia have rallied to offer sanctuary to asylum seekers.
The thing about Easter is it’s how God entered into our world, about how he came looking for us. That means the good news we’re celebrating is about bridging gaps and overcoming differences. The good news is for the world beyond the church. It’s for the outsider and the stranger. For the unfamiliar.
The good news of Easter should be found, shared, and celebrated with those who are not like us. At Easter we look for the face of Jesus in those who are suffering, and bring them some good news, that they are not alone.
Matt is minister with St David’s Coopers Plains Uniting Church.