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Welcoming the darkness

 I BEGAN learning Greek when I was 14.

The minister of my church had decided that I would become a minister so he took me into his study before the Sunday
evening service and tried to teach me New Testament Greek.

He retired not too long after that so I didn’t learn much Greek.

I tried again when I went to university but am still not too good at it.

I still know the Greek letters however and some of the main words that recur in the New Testament.

So when I was in Athens a couple of years ago I took great pride in reading the signs and telling my wife Heather when I recognised a word.

Imagine my surprise when I sat in the MacDonald’s near the old part of the city and read the word ‘Eucharist’ on the
rubbish bins.

I thought about what they have on these bins in Australia: “Thank You”.

Of course the word ‘Eucharist’ comes from the Greek word for thanks.

Thus the word on the bin in Athens simply meant thank you.

This caused me to ponder the links between the Eucharist and that which we discard.

Many within our society have discarded anything to do with the Christian faith.

What connection does belief in Jesus have to do with the pain and struggle we are all experiencing as a result of floods, cyclones and earthquakes?

Why do we still believe in this strange, outmoded religion?

Psalm 118 is quoted in several places in the New Testament in discussing the way Jesus was treated: “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.”

It is apparent that following the events we remember as Easter, many realised that this one who was discarded was the
one that could bring redemption and healing to the world.

Thus the meal of remembrance became more than a memorial meal, but the thanksgiving meal: the Eucharist.

In this sacrament we rejoice and give thanks for all that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection has done.

This Easter the Christian church across the world has the wonderful opportunity to re-tell our central story in a way that might help people realise its significance for their lives.

They may choose to take up what they had discarded.

The experience of Jesus has been re-lived by millions.

Many have experienced the torment of Jesus’ Gethsemane experience in recent months.

What should I do?

Should we stay where we are or go to a safe place?

If we go what should we take?

How do I know what the right thing is?

Many have lost everything and cried in one way or another, “My God, my God why have you forsaken us?”

Can we help them realise that Jesus has entered into their cry of despair?

Right now it feels like they are lying in the tomb.

They have lost so much.

Many people feel alone and abandoned; many don’t know if there will be a future for them or what it will be like.

Like Jesus they lie in the darkness waiting and hoping for new life.

Never before have I realised the importance of Easter Saturday.

We who have experienced God’s love and grace in the past need to stand firm and proclaim our conviction that no matter
what it feels like at the moment we continue to believe in the resurrection and that God can bring new life from all this chaos, pain and confusion.

I believe that we in the Uniting Church, through our congregations and agencies, can help those who have been profoundly impacted by the events in this state and beyond.

We can help people recognise that in Jesus God has experienced our confusion, pain, loss and death.

We can assure them that because of Jesus’ resurrection we too can look towards new life.

We can invite them to join in thanksgiving and welcome them to the Eucharist.

It doesn’t matter that people have discarded Jesus in the past; in the risen Christ there is always a new hope.

What connection does belief in Jesus have to do with the pain and struggle we are all experiencing as a result of floods, cyclones and earthquakes?