Tag Archives: Cross

What is an Australian Easter?

Thank you for joining us, especially if you are not a regular church attender… we are honoured to have you with us, and trust that our time together is encouraging, welcoming and thought provoking.

What is an Australian Easter? It’s a bit different from Christmas, with its strong family associations and big lunches or dinners. Easter does mean chocolate, mostly eggs and bunnies.

But I think the Easter most Aussies think about is the holiday. The 4-day week-end, just long enough to get away for a few nights or to get out into the garden. And the weather is often great.

It fits well with the Aussie way of life: we like getaways and outdoor activities, and ironically sometimes need to be forced to take time out to do these things.

What place then does the Christian message have? It’s actually pretty jarring. Good Friday represents the cruel death of the one we call the Son of God, literally thousands of years ago, and literally on the other side of the planet. This part of Easter probably struggles for RELEVANCE for many people. So remote in concept, time and place.

And then on Easter Day there is the claim of resurrection from the dead. That this Son of God remained dead only for a few days and then appeared to his followers. This part of Easter probably struggles for BELIEVABILITY for many.

How about you? In the end, the Christian message is not about telling people they must go to church instead of going on holiday. It is a message that requires a personal response. What do you YOU make of Easter? Do you believe that these events actually happened?

The impact of Easter involves coming to terms with these extraordinary things that God did in our world. We may want him to take away our illnesses, our financial struggles, or our relationship difficulties.   And yet Easter challenges us to ask whether God himself might have some kind of agenda for the world.

After all, if he allowed his son to be nailed to a cross, he must have been doing something important. Likewise, if death itself is reversed at the first Easter, God must have some kind of agenda for the world… what is it?

My family and I wish you a happy (and reflective!) Easter.

The cross is foolishness… huh?

Welcome along to St Augustine’s… I hope you’ve been warmly greeted by our regulars, and perhaps you will be able to stick around for a cuppa after the service.

Over this period in the church calendar called “Epiphany”, which refers to the appearing of the Lord, we are doing a series of sermons from 1 Corinthians 1-4. That will take us through until the end of February.

The passage we looked at last week was foundational for me as a young adult trying to understand the Christian message. It began with the words, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. I remember as a university student thinking how extraordinary that Paul actually used the words cross and foolishness in the same sentence. I’d always thought of the cross as being a concept requiring nothing but the deepest respect. And yet here is the Apostle Paul suggesting that there is a kind of foolishness attached to it if we apply only human wisdom: that it’s a really silly thing to worship a saviour who died so gruesomely and helplessly.

But hearing Paul on this changed my approach to faith. Where I had once shared my beliefs in the assumption that people would soon enough see that Christianity makes sense, I now realised that in fact Christianity does NOT make sense to the world. So when we speak of it to friends, family or neighbours, we should not expect them to simply say, “Oh right, I see… I will now logically become a Christian”.

That’s not how it works, and I am still coming to grips with the fact that when someone becomes a Christian it is not because they’ve seen the inherent human logic and sense to it. Rather, somehow God has revealed something to them of himself and his own great wisdom and power. The Christian has not “worked out” how to get to God, but has had the way to God revealed to him or her. And so salvation is a gift from God, and not a human achievement.

After all, what kind of salvation would it be if it were something we achieved! May God continue to bless us all with his own wisdom, pointing us to his power, that we may boast only in him.

In love, Mark