In this regular column, our Baptist National Leader, Charles Hewlett, keeps us posted on the happenings in Baptist faith communities across Aotearoa. The original Charles Mail is emailed out on a Friday and reproduced here the following Monday. This week is a special edition following the Easter weekend.

Dear Baptist Whānau 

What a privilege it is for me to work alongside Alan, John, Luke, and Susan. For this Easter season, I invited them to help us reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – our Lord and our Saviour.

I know that many of you have worked hard in preparing for ministry and mission in the weekend. I pray that people will give their lives to Jesus for the first time as a result of your gospel work.

New Zealand Baptists – be encouraged! "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you." (Romans 8:11)

with love

Charles


Alan Jamieson, General Director, Arotahi writes:

The Apostles' Creed simply states that Jesus “was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead.” There is no credible historian or account of history that denies Jesus' crucifixion, by the Romans under Pontius Pilate, nor any historical hint or medical belief that Jesus somehow survived the crucifixion. What we don’t see, but our creed proclaims, is how Jesus stretched the love of God even to the depths of hell and utter god-forsakeness, to hollow out hell and release the prisoners (1 Peter 3 v 18-20). Now, quoting the King James Bible, “...if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there”. Jesus has utterly completed the work of the incarnation. From this I know two beautiful truths. Jesus, in perfect love, knows suffering and emptied hell.


John Tucker, Principal Carey Baptist College writes:

The apostle Paul wrote, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3-4). At the centre of the Easter event, at the heart of our faith, is the assertion that Jesus was buried. On Easter Saturday, the eternal Son of God really, truly, died. His body lay in a tomb, dead.

An ancient Christian homily spoke of this strange day in these terms: "What happened today on earth? There is great silence – a great silence and stillness." In his book A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis recounts his attempts to pray after his wife died of cancer: "Go to [God] when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence."

Silence. That is so often our experience. Like Jesus' disciples on Easter Saturday, we are often bowed down by grief, guilt, questions, doubts, fear. Like them and like the psalmist, we often cry out to God in our pain, and the response can sound like silence.

But the good news is that Easter Saturday is not the end of the story. Death and the devil do not have the last word. The One who we buried on Friday, God raised on Sunday. By his Spirit he is with us, and one day we will also be raised to new life with him in the new world, where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev 21:4)!


Luke Kaa-Morgan, Te Pouarataki mō te hīkoi (Treaty guide) writes:

Kua ara a te Karaiti! This Sunday morning many of our faith communities will declare this truth, Christ is risen! As I make this statement, I deeply sense the hope that Christ’s resurrection brings. Hope for our real-world experience. One that in the brokenness of the world today, leads us to live that hope and bring light wherever darkness is. As NT Wright concludes in his book The Resurrection of the Son of God, the good news, te rongo pai, is that the resurrection is not a bizarre miracle, but the beginning of the new creation. This calls us to truly live as new creations in our world bringing honour to the God of creation, the God of justice and the God revealed in the resurrected Christ. He pono tonu, kua ara a ia. Āreruia! He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!


Susan Osborne, President, Baptist Churches of New Zealand, prays:

Ever loving Father,

As we are bombarded with advertisements to have fun this Easter, eating hot cross buns, chocolate eggs and bunnies, remind us again of the sacrifice you made and the price you paid to redeem us from our sin. Help us make time to reflect on the pain and sadness you experienced when Your son suffered and died on a cross. Thank you that you know what living with pain is all about.

Suffering servant, Jesus,

As we are living as your followers in this world and as we identify with you, we too will know the fellowship of your sufferings as well as the joy and power of resurrection in our daily lives (Phil.3:10). May we live in the confidence of being God’s beloved, as you did.

Life giving Holy Spirit,

As we gather in churches and at camps, open our eyes to the ways in which your passion, death, and resurrection are happening among us every day*. Renew our commitment to make you the centre of our lives and challenge us to live reflecting the heart of God in our communities. 

*Adapted from Henri Nouwen, Walk with Jesus; stations of the cross.

 

 Photos: Supplied by Charles Hewlett

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