2024 EASTER MESSAGE: Because people are essentially the same as they always have been, Easter is as relevant as it always has been. Easter speaks to the hurt, the broken and strained relationships in our personal lives, and in society as a whole.

Like Danny and Leila Abdallah, who had three of their children killed when struck by a drunk driver on a footpath in February 2000. It was incredibly painful. It should not have happened. The driver went to prison. Yet Easter taught Danny and Leila to forgive that guilty man, despite their overwhelming grief.

Why? Not because that drunk driver deserved it. Forgiveness is never deserved. Justice demands that the person who hurt us should pay. Some see forgiveness as morally wrong because it is ‘self-hate’, letting a guilty person off the hook. Anger and revenge are seen as more authentic.

God understands the need for justice. He is more upset at the mess in ‘His’ world than we ever will be! Yet at Easter we see the goodness and creativity of mercy. God models forgiveness, which is to willingly take upon ourselves the punishment due to our oppressor. Rather than retaliate, forgiveness chooses to suffer.

We see this on the cross, when the innocent man Jesus willingly suffered in the place of guilty people. God brought his justice upon Jesus. Jesus suffered what was deserved by the drunk driver, the gossiper, the home invader, liar, and so many more. That means that those who admit their guilt can experience forgiveness and freedom from guilt.

Why would anyone forgive?! To be creative rather than destructive. To open the door to restoration and reconciliation. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of anger and payback, inserting in its place radical love, and the opportunity for a fresh start.

In our divided society and families, Easter sings loud and clear with God’s harmony of justice and mercy. We need it desperately!

This Easter, come join us or another Christian church to hear more. In May, we also start a teaching series on the transforming power of forgiveness.

God bless you this Easter!

Rev Simon Waller and David Piper
Gunnedah Anglican Church

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