We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!

Crazy love coupled with fierce determination fuelled my motivation to win the approval of Julianne’s (my wife) parents when we were ‘going out’ as teenagers.  As Catholics, they didn’t have much time for Lutherans, especially the one who had a keen eye for their eldest daughter.  Desperate times called for desperate measures, so in an attempt to destroy denominational barriers, I asked Julianne’s parents if I could join the family at the upcoming Mass of Pope John Paul II, during the Papal visit to Australia. Surely that would win them over!  Let’s just say, much greater and sustained effort was required on my part to win their approval – that’s a story for another day.   But … on that day at Victoria Park, on the 30 November 1986, despite my ulterior motive, I heard some words that resonated. 

‘We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song’. 

It was a true statement then, and it remains true today, especially amidst global unrest and  

the horrendous recent violence unleashed inside the Bondi Junction shopping centre and during worship at Christ the Good Shepherd Church, Sydney. 

Christ is risen, but the world is still broken.   

How are the families in our learning communities processing this?  How are we? 

How do we live as Easter people and what should this ‘Alleluia song’ look like in our specific and unique contexts?  

At Easter, we celebrate the risen Christ. Jesus died and rose again to deal with our sin. Death was defeated and hope restored. The world changed forever. As Easter people, our lives are now defined by the hope that we have in Jesus. Yet, for many in our learning communities, this life-changing and life-giving truth is drowned out by the brokenness of the world around them. 

I looked up the transcript from that November day in 1986.  Pope JP2 said,  

‘We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song! We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the fundamental duty of love of neighbour, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy. We realize that joy is demanding; it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say…, ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word.” 

These are powerful words as we grapple with the challenge of inspiring our communities to live as Easter people.  

On Good Friday we began as ‘people of the Jesus crucified’. We reflected on Jesus’ death, recounting the events of the crucifixion, and the extent of his grace. Holding space on Good Friday reminded me that it was not into an untroubled world that God sent his Son and it is not an untroubled world in which we find ourselves today.  The cross points us to God’s hatred of sin and evil and its effects on those made in his image.  

As learning community leaders, we often carry the weight of brokenness, recognising and challenged by the fact that many in our communities, attempt to keep it ‘beneath the surface’.   I encourage you today – please know that your grace, compassion, and prayer reach right into the heart of the darkness of everyday circumstances.  Your grace draws others to Jesus.   

Importantly, we’re not a Good Friday people, we’re an Easter people! Just as the cross is not the end of the gospel story, so the challenges in community are not the end either.  The empty tomb reveals a God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can know or believe is possible.  We’re not defined by our circumstances, but by Jesus, who is over and above them.  

Paul prays that our eyes would be opened so we might …‘know the hope’ to which he has called us, and ‘the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.’ Ephesians 1:18–21 

We are an Easter People. 

God bless your service to Lutheran education.  May you be a blessing to those you serve and lead, helping them to make connections between the circumstances of everyday and the truth and reassurance of the resurrection.  

As a side note, my relationship with Julianne’s family 40 years on, is relational, rich and rewarding.  God’s promises are ecumenical.   We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!   

David Wilksch 
Principal Growth


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