‘From Death to Life’ – Easter 2023
Moderator’s Easter pastoral reflection to the people of God in the Uniting Church.
‘As the Church universal enters Holy Week, leading up to the celebration of Easter, I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Susy Thomas, Moderator.
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Uniting Church in Western Australia,
As the Church universal enters Holy Week, leading up to the celebration of Easter, I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are living in turbulent times. Much of the world is in a state of turmoil and even though we are physically far from the epicentres of conflict, we nonetheless sense the suffering and deprivation of others.
When I was growing up in what was then a newly independent India, despite great chasms of inequality, there was a fervent hope of new beginnings that would allow India’s ancient civilisation, so full of rich and diverse cultures, to assert its own way in the world.
I have learnt in life it is part of the nature of the human condition that empires come and go, but eternal truths always remain, awaiting new revelation. Such is the story of Easter, where hope emerges from darkness; where love overcomes hatred and betrayal; and where new life emerges from the stench of death and destruction.
Today we live in a time of great tension, as superpowers seek to exert even greater influence over smaller nations and minority peoples. In the time of Jesus the might of the Roman Empire was all-pervading. Those living in occupied territories had to be either compliant or crushed. Collaborators were only too willing to assist those who held power as the price they had to pay for cultural and religious survival. This was the world into which Jesus was born and which framed his understanding of being one sent from God.
The message of Jesus was simple: “blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are those who hunger for thirst and righteousness; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure in heart; blessed are the peacemakers”.
For oppressed people, these were truly words of hope. For those without power, these were words of liberation. For those hated and reviled, these were words of love.
It is little wonder that those seemingly having nothing, flocked to hear Jesus. Yet in so doing made him an object of fear amongst those who maintained their religious and political power by holding others in subjugation. In short, Jesus was a threat that had to be removed. Yet despite betrayal by even those closest to him; a mock trial; a criminal’s crucifixion; and a death seemingly steeped in dishonour; out of these ashes of despair emerged a new beginning.
Some women numbered among the disheartened followers of Jesus announced they had seen Jesus appear to them. Others too, in time, came to believe. They realised that God’s light for the world had not been extinguished, even by death.
That unshakeable belief is what has sustained countless millions through the centuries. In a world so riven by death and the destruction of war, it is once more a time for such a word of hope to be heard over hatred. The alternative we witness daily in the madness and destructiveness of war has no victory, because it ultimately only leads to death.
We are offered a choice and our Uniting Church seeks to bear faithful witness to that choice. I have consciously chosen to have God’s living presence with me every day, through the lived life of Jesus.
My prayer is as those who also have willingly chosen to be faithful followers of “The Way” that our life and witness point to the reality of the living presence of Jesus in all that we think, say and do.
May God’s richest blessing be with you this Easter.
Moderator, Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia