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Easter message from the Moderator

Dear Friends in Christ,

You may have heard the story about the minister who went on a tour of the Holy Land at Easter time. On Maundy Thursday evening he packed a basket with food and a thermos of hot coffee, and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. There he settled into a comfortable reclining chair, rugged himself up in a warm blanket, ate his specially prepared food and sipped his coffee, all for the purpose, as he explained to his friends, of getting in touch with the experience of Jesus as he agonised in prayer over his imminent death on the cross.

It is, of course, totally presumptuous to imagine that any one of us could ever experience what Jesus went through on that momentous night.

We are not Jesus and we were not there. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” is a rhetorical question inviting us to reflect on what happened, it is not an assertion that we can ever feel what Jesus felt. We can ponder what it would have been like to stand there with those who were eye-witnesses to the death of Jesus, but we cannot put ourselves in his place.

Rather, we need to pray for a deeper understanding of what happened and the faith to receive the life-changing truth that through Christ, “God was reconciling the world to Himself.”

We cannot put ourselves in Christ’s place. Exactly the opposite is the case! Jesus enters into our experience, understands us completely, and offers us life in all its fullness! That is the truth we declare and celebrate at Easter time.

We cannot put ourselves in Christ’s place, but by God’s grace we are joined to Christ, and share in his life! Let us, by faith, enter into that life, and fervently pray that around our troubled world the reconciliation that Christ has effected between God and humanity will be reflected in a commitment to peace and cooperation wherever people are in conflict with each other.

Please pray also this Easter for the people of the Solomon Islands, whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

Grace and peace.

Rev Dr David Pitman is Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia