Echuca Community Church
Easter service times:
Good Friday — 9am
Easter Sunday — 10.30am
■ How/when did you personally become a Christian and when did the Easter story first become real for you?
Like many people of my age group, as a child, I was sent to Sunday School. My introduction to Jesus took place there. However, my family never went to church, even though they believed in Christian values. Sunday School was only for primary school children and once I entered high school, I left Sunday School behind.
I guess I had a belief as a child but without the support from my family, who did not attend church, nor express belief in God, I did my own thing and eventually walked away from my childhood faith.
It wasn’t until my early 20s I did, again, come face-to-face with the issues of faith. My sister had become involved in a church youth group and she persuaded me to go with her. Since the youth attended church I started to attend as well and after a year – this time as an adult – the Easter story became real to me and I made my decision to follow Christ. I was baptised in 1982, at the age of 22 and have kept the faith to this day.
■ What would you say to people who are sceptical of the Easter story – those who say it sounds unbelievable?
I would have to say that I was this person who was, at first, sceptical. One of the problems today is that westerners struggle to reconcile science and faith. They see them at odds with each other. In my experience, this is largely due to “scientism” – the belief that science can answer every question about life. Until a person is able to separate true science from ideological scientism, they will continue to struggle with scepticism.
A case in point is the origin of life. Scientists still do not know how we came to be. Furthermore, the theory of evolution is now struggling in the face of increasing biological evidence of design. Interestingly, evolutionary scientists are becoming concerned about the high quality David Attenborough wildlife shows. The concern is the “awe-factor” in these shows. These shows give people the impression of design. As far as evidence is concerned, so they should.
All this needs to be extrapolated back to God who devised a way to win mankind back to Himself. The cross and resurrection of Christ is the answer to our separation from God.
■ How does your church observe Easter? Has this changed much over the years you have been involved as a minister of your church?
Usually, we observe Easter by having a Good Friday Service. This time of the year is to coincide with the crucifixion of Christ. This observance has remained the same.
Easter is expressed in the New Testament as something relevant for every week, not just once a year. My reading of the scriptures is that the NT is silent about a once-a-year observance of Easter. Therefore, I do not place a high value on a once-a-year observance. It is sad that many people have the impression that somehow this time of the year is more sacred than any other week of the year.
Easter is supposed to be internalised in the Christian. It’s what they take with them every day of their life. In some respects, I think the emphasis on a once a year Easter has underplayed its significance.
The NT emphasises the observance of communion – which is a weekly Easter celebration – that keeps the Easter story close to the heart of every Christian.
■ Is the message being diluted, even lost, in the commercial white noise around record chocolate sales?
Most people know that the origin of the Easter bunny comes from the Germanic goddess of spring, “Eostre” – the bunny symbolising new life/growth/fertility. When Christianity became the official religion of Rome, Christ’s death and resurrection was overlaid over this pagan religion.
I appreciate the fact that a once a year Easter time is a good reminder to our culture of what God has done for us in sending His Christ. It is not surprising that, as the culture moves further away from its Christian and western roots, the cultural appropriation of Christianity will also move away.
It will be to society’s detriment, however. Too much ignorance surrounds our culture about the Easter story and its impact for good on our society. Under postmodern philosophy we have witnessed, from our own people, a hatred for our western Christian values. I only wish people would look more closely at the alternatives to the Christian worldview, before they embrace what they won’t like and disparage what brings them great benefits.
■ If you could talk to everyone in town, what would be the single most important message you would like to share with them?
That they are going to die. The young don’t care about this reality and it’s only until you either come face to face with it through a close shave or you are in your middle or late age that you start to think about death. The problem for the older person is that over the years, they have hardened up to God to the point that they have given up on Him.
It is amazing to think we are here. We live in all our incredible complexity. I do not believe in evolution and nor do many others, including scientists (even non-theistic scientists). We have been created – life and the world is loudly telling us so.
I believe God has spoken and He has spoken through the events of history. Jesus’ resurrection holds out the prospect of everlasting life – a future with God. There is a judgement day coming, but once dead, no one gets to have a change of heart. God has provided the way through the Person of Jesus for a person to be put right with Him.