Easter Sunday – This Day Changed Everything

Welcome to Easter Sunday. On behalf of the church family here at Albion Park Anglican, we hope you have already experienced a blessed Easter with your family and friends.

If you were part of our Good Friday services, it is great to have you back on this most amazing of days. While Good Friday saw us see so much tragedy, today we gather to acknowledge that the effects of Good Friday are felt powerfully on this day.

Let me pick up the conclusion to Friday’s most terrible moment, with Jesus readying himself to conclude His life. We read in John 19:28-30, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

It is finished … such a profound moment. The work that was required of Jesus had been completed. The sacrifice that was required had been fulfilled. Humanity no longer had to look to themselves for salvation, they only had to look at the cross to fully grasp the sentiment … it is finished.

God had made His final statement of love. As Billy Graham expressed, “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’

If there is anything we know in this life, it is that love – to be loved and to love someone – always involves responsibility and no matter what the world tells you, love always involves sacrifice. Easter is God’s love fully expressed. Furthermore, this love has now been cemented in the reality of the resurrection. This is now where hope is found. The sadness of Good Friday is replaced with the hope of heaven. All that Jesus said, all that He stood for and all that was expected has now turned out just the way God had planned
it from the beginning.

Forgiveness is real and not cheap. Hope is real and not hidden. No matter what you are thinking, no matter what situation you find yourself in, and in particular, no matter how your life has turned out, this day has changed everything forever. Like me, your tears may not have ended just yet, your nights of weeping and days of heartache may still be with you for a while, but this I know, Easter is here! My suffering, my broken dreams, my shattered hopes are now also resurrected because this day brings new light on my life, on my future and on my future journey. Jesus lives!

One Christian writer captured this well, when he said “Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations
of life.

So here you are in church, and no, I do not know your story. Maybe you might share it with me one day. However, this I do know. God brings beauty from the ashes. All our suffering is temporary when the hope of the resurrection is eternal. Our pain experienced will not be wasted; good can come from bad, even when we cannot see it.

There comes a day in everyone’s life when we must face the truth of the Easter story. It is my hope that if you have not yet done that, then this is the day you will.

Yours living with the hope of heaven and the joy that Easter is here!
Ian Barnett

Good Friday – A Day When Everything Changed

Welcome to Good Friday. On behalf of our church family here at Albion Park Anglican, I extend to all of you a safe, happy and blessed Easter.

It is my hope and the hope of many who gather here today, that by the time you leave the service you will have gained a greater understanding of what this day is about and why many others and I believe that Good Friday is a day when everything changed. Yes, I know it is a big statement, especially when we know there have been many things throughout history and in our own lives that we could point to and say, “this is the day when everything changed.” Think of any day in 2020 for example. Of course, we could list them; from wars to the depression, to plagues or incredible disasters where thousands of lives have been lost. We could make it personal and point to the loss of life, especially our sons and daughters or to the pain when a relationship breaks down.

However, when I stop and think about Good Friday, I am continually moved. It is a day unlike any other day in the calendar. It is a day filled with sorrow yet mingled with joy. It is a day when, maybe unlike any other day, we stop and think about our lives; who we are, what we do and ask, “Is there more to life?” It is when many will gather and grieve over the state of our nation; the state of politics or even the state of sport. It is a day when even if we do not want to use the word, we grieve over the state of humankind; we grieve over our sin. Why we might ask, is it so hard to get it right?

The great Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it into perspective when he says, “Good Friday and Easter free us to think about other things far beyond our own personal fate, about the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and events; and we lay hold of a great hope.” This is what I often think of as a rare conundrum and I am not surprised that many people find the reality of Good Friday such an obstacle to faith. As W.H.Auden said, “Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot.”At a personal level I always prefer joy, but over the past couple of months and throughout 2020, I often found myself with a sense of a low grade feeling of sadness. When I ponder the meaning of Good Friday the words seem so strange, “Good Friday”. I think “Bad Friday” would be more apt. When I think of those who walked with Jesus, who placed so much faith in him, had their hopes grounded in him, saw him hanging on a cross … well I believe this would have destroyed them. The sky was black and their
dreams had died. This must have been the darkest day they had ever known. For them this was the day when everything changed.

Yet …

For God and humanity to be one again, there had to be an action on behalf of God by His Son, Jesus, which would allow the world to have their sin dealt with once for all. A sacrifice made that would not just cover the world sins at that point in time, but all sins for all time and especially our sins of this time. This is what Good Friday is about. God dealing with our rebellion once for all. A rebellion that would lead Jesus to call out to His father and say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:32-34). This is amazing grace. This is forgiveness discovered at the foot of the cross. May you also find His forgiveness on this day.

Yours realising there must be a Good Friday for there to be an Easter Sunday. Ian Barnet