We try to follow in Christ’s steps

By Riverine Herald

Echuca Moama Uniting Church

Michele Lees

Easter service times:

Good Friday — 9am

Easter Sunday — 10am

■ How/when did you personally become a Christian and when did the Easter story first become real for you?

I became a Christian at age 18. I was studying science at university and came to know a medical student who lived in my neighbourhood. He introduced me to a local church, and I noticed the difference in the young people there. They were at peace and shared much love with others, unlike many students at uni whose lives were in turmoil. I wanted to have that contentment in my life. After struggling to let God have a say in my life, I finally said yes to God. I experienced an overflowing sense of joy and fullness in my life. I had found new life in Jesus Christ. The Easter story became meaningful to me because I now knew Jesus in my life and that this new life was possible because of Jesus’ death on the cross, his resurrection and ascension.

■What would you say to people who are sceptical of the Easter story – those who say it sounds unbelievable?

I would agree with them that the Easter story sounds unbelievable. How can a man who was crucified, found to be dead and was buried in a tomb then come back to life on the third day after being killed? This is not a normal human experience. The Bible tells of Lazarus who came back to life after Jesus’ intervention, but Lazarus would later die as humans are destined. However, Jesus came back to life in a body that could now suddenly appear and walk through walls, although he was still able to talk and eat and be felt. I don’t think we have any scientific explanation for Jesus’ resurrection or his resurrection body, but I believe in his resurrection because I experience the Spirit of Jesus living with me each day. I know that Jesus who once was dead now is alive in the world.

■How does your church observe Easter? Has this changed much over the years you have been involved as a minister of your church?

This is my first Easter at Echuca Moama Uniting Church. In my previous placement of five congregations, one congregation would celebrate Easter morning at sunrise in a neighbourhood park leaving behind a cross decorated with flowers for visitors to appreciate. This year we hope to decorate a cross in the Easter Day service in our church building on the corner of Hare and Packenham Streets, Echuca. Our Trailblazers Children’s Club have been learning about Easter and led our Sunday morning service on March 31. As a congregation we celebrate Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day with services at the church. Over the years different ministers have celebrated Easter in different ways, holding some services inside and some outside. On Easter Day we hope to be family-friendly, and in our service we will celebrate Holy Communion but try not to exceed one hour’s duration.

■Is the message being diluted, even lost, in the commercial white noise around record chocolate sales?

If I was to be guided by the supermarkets and bakeries, I would think that Easter celebrations begin following Boxing Day. Hot cross buns are on display, and since the beginning of Lent, about seven weeks before Easter, the shelves have been adorned with Easter eggs. Traditionally, hot cross buns are only eaten on Good Friday and Easter eggs on Easter Day. The cross on the bun represents the cross on which Jesus died on Good Friday and the egg is a symbol of new life, new life that Jesus experienced, and new life we can find in him. In the lead up to Easter, Christians can consider going without something to spend more time in contemplation of God and Jesus. Any money saved goes to those in need. Today there is no commercial support to go without, just encouragement to indulge yourself. Today only the churches seem to promote the Christian understanding of Easter.

■If you could talk to everyone in town, what would be the single most important message you would like to share with them?

Those who represent the Church are not perfect, and some have been found to live in despicable ways. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only perfect human who lived, who showed such love and mercy that many people over the centuries have been attracted to his ways and then lived life in companionship with him. At Echuca Moama Uniting Church we try our hardest to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to show love and concern to each other, those who visit and those who come to our lunch and breakfast program.