17 Apr A message of hope: lessons everyone can learn for a better life this Easter
For those of us who follow the Christian tradition, Easter is a time to remember the life of Jesus and renew our commitment to following the example he set.
But whether you identify as a person of faith or not, Easter can be a time to slow down, press pause and reflect.
This Easter, many of us will take time out to be with family, go away with friends or to attend a service. It can also be time for reflection, renewal, transition and hope.
We caught up with some members of the Uniting spiritual care team to chat about what the season of Easter means to them.
Renewal at Easter
Andrew Mead is a busy hospital chaplain working with Uniting in Canberra. He sees the Easter story as a symbol of renewal that is at work in each one of our lives if we would only stop and notice.
“As humans, our lives are a series of deaths and renewals and rebirths,” reflects Andrew.
“We’re pretty good at seeing it outside ourselves – the cycle of the seasons, for example – and now we’re even becoming aware of it on a cosmic scale as science reveals that even stars and galaxies are born and die. But we often don’t seem to notice this cycle in our very own lives.
“You can think of it in terms of deaths and resurrections, of dying and rebirth, of endings and beginnings, or even as fallings and risings. Our lives are made up of this from beginning to end,” Andrew says.
“I like the metaphor of falling down. As humans, we fall down all the time, it seems – we fail, we slip up, we lose our way, we betray our own ideals and commitments… But after the falling, comes the rising up again. We fall, but we get back up.
“One of the central lessons from the cycle of death and renewal is that the falling – the failing, the dying – is not the end of the story. Even if it’s painful, it’s the moment before something new can begin.”
So, one of the lessons from this is not to focus on the falling, but to look forward to the getting up again, the renewal, the new beginning. Because our failures don’t have the final say, the opportunity is there for something new to happen, we just have to take part in it, grab hold of it, believe in it.
Hope at Easter
Nau Ahosivi is a prison chaplain working with Uniting in a remand centre for prisoners awaiting appearance and sentencing in court. Like Andrew, he sees the theme of renewal in the Easter story reflected in his work.
The prisoners Nau works with are ‘in limbo’ at a time where they have been declared neither ‘guilty’ nor ‘innocent’.
“It’s a very high-stress situation,” Nau reflects. “And one where a lot of soul searching happens. Some of them will be found innocent and return to their homes and loved ones, while others have years of incarceration ahead of them.”
But Nau also sees a theme of hope in his work.
“If you want to find hope, you need to be willing to change,” he reflects. “Resurrection is all about hope. Without hope, people give up.”
“I feel called to serve God in prison and to bring hope for the future to the inmates I work with, because they see chaplains as a source of hope, Nau says.
“Prison can be a time of renewal. If they want to make a change, they can do it right here in jail. They don’t have to wait until they leave prison to make a change – it can be a transition time as they make plans for a new life after incarceration.
“Being in jail can make you humble and willing to change. I see my inmates as my congregation. At the end of the day – no matter what they’ve done – they are just human beings.
“I say to them, ‘Every time we wake up alive, there is hope.’ While we are still alive, there is hope.”
Transition at Easter
In her Easter video message, Head of Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy for Uniting, Rev Jean Shannon, shares how “Easter is all about transitions.”
“Transition is a very human experience. It’s part of our evolution,” reflects Jean.
“It can be something as simple as the sliding door between being an individual and becoming a parent – when suddenly you see the world as an entirely different place – or it can be the transition between professional life and retirement.
“For Christians, Easter is all about transition. It’s that moment when you discover that it’s not about what you’re ‘doing’, but who you are and who you’re called to be… and that transition applies to everyone.
“As we roll towards the Easter break, I really wish you well with all your transitions – whether it’s as simple as moving from being crazy busy, to that stillness; or whether you’re taking this opportunity to tackle some of the bigger issues and to stop and think about life choices and changes.”
Get in touch
From all of us at Uniting, we wish you a safe and happy Easter break.