From the Archbishop

Our daily choice of faith or despair


April 13 2017Our Easter profession, that “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” sums up the heart of our faith. Its reiteration each time that we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist brings to the fore this central truth of Easter.

Our Lenten journey of repentance and prayer shapes us to face the starkness of Good Friday. We know that the disciples of Jesus who lived and shared with him as his contemporaries found his death entirely confronting to all they had anticipated or expected. The Christian experience of life that we live each day is also confronted by the existence and presence of evil in the world. While it is on a different scale, each Christian has to face the daily choice between faith and despair.

While not probably planned to coincide, it has been a powerful co-incidence that the Royal Commission’s Anglican Wrap-up hearing occurred around the weekend of the third Sunday of Lent. The incidence of child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church of Australia has been truly shocking: it is the source of profound shame that children involved in the ministry of the Church have suffered harm. Human failure and sin are always ugly when they are revealed. The worldwide Anglican Communion holds as its motto the verse of Scripture from John 8.32, “The truth will set you free”, an extract from the longer statement of Jesus, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” As difficult as it is in the light of the expectations of our human nature, it is proper for us to look to this promise of Jesus when reflecting on our own reaction to the sad facts revealed by the Royal Commission. Embracing the reality of our history, both as individuals and as a Church, is the liberating truth of Christ.

It is clear from the journey of the great three days of Easter that a vast range of human emotion is on display. Our Christian worship leads us through these events and their emotional responses and encourages us to connect our daily life with the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Deuteronomy 30.19 puts this starkly: “Today I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” The disciples could have stopped at Good Friday and been left in despair. That would have been the last of them and their movement. Undoubtedly they would have been lost to the historical record, there would have been no New Testament and Christianity would never have emerged from Second Temple Judaism. Their response to Jesus’ Resurrection, tumultuous and disparate as it was, changed everything for them. Jesus’ Resurrection changes everything for us too; it is the basis upon which we “choose life” in each of the daily choices that confront us.

May your Easter journey be one that draws you more deeply into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I hope that both in your participation in worship and in your own heart and motivations you know the liberating power of our Risen Lord.

Archbishop Philip Freier

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