As the territorial commander of The Salvation Army's Australia Southern Territory I take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this column a safe, meaningful, enjoyable and insightful Easter holiday.
That word ‘holiday’, or ‘holy day’, hints at the fact that Easter is a most sacred, special time of the year for Christians. Across this country, and the world, people use the Easter period as a time to regroup; to spend time with family and friends. For Christians it is a time to remember the life, teachings and acts of Jesus Christ, and his arrest, assault, torture, death and – Christians believe – his resurrection.
There have been many efforts to try and comprehend why Jesus, who we believe was God’s Son, gave his life. The idea of selfless, sacrificial love doesn’t translate easily to generations who don’t necessarily ‘get’ or accept the church’s concept of sin, separation from God or a need to be reconciled with God.
I believe that good and evil are present in our world, even if we don’t recognise them or struggle to define them. The Salvation Army believes in an absolute good – in God – and sees God’s Love expressed best in the meeting of social and spiritual need; the alleviating and healing of pain. The wiping of tears, and the binding of wounds. This is God’s love in action.
I am profoundly convinced that the idea that God needed, and was able, to be reconciled with humanity is at heart an eternal mystery. I find my best response is a grateful pursuit of love; an acceptance and pursuit of grace in my daily living.
My first academic qualifications were in the realm of natural science. As we continue to gain a greater understanding of the cosmos, of the intricacies of creation revealed through scientific and medical revelations, I find my best and most rewarding response is awe at the Creator who put us all into play.
Although there would be those who would suggest that the events of Easter are not empirically verifiable, there are elements of evidence of the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Yet Easter is a matter of faith and belief.
In the Bible, faith is described as ‘the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11:1). In a paraphrase of that statement in The Message we read that ‘faith is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.’
The mystery of grace cannot be measured or quantified. But the proof of grace, embodied in Jesus, is demonstrated every day by millions of his followers. I hope that this Easter you experience the mystery of a God who wouldn’t let go of us; who went through grief and pain and rejection to bring us back to grace. May we in faith embrace the grace he offers to all of us.
Commissioner Floyd Tidd