Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day that Christ died to save us from our sins. Sunday is Easter Sunday, the day that He rose from the dead. It’s a four day weekend in Australia, often a five day weekend for some. People use the time to get away for what is often the last gasp of summer before winter sets in down under. There will be surf and sand, beers and bbqs; just the sort of lazy indulgences that hard working people need every once in a while.
But this week in Australia a man lost his job and had his contract torn up because of his religious views. His Christian faith has been deemed unacceptable and not in line with the more enlightened attitudes of today. Apparently we are wiser than the good men who wrote the Bible.
But that same religion is why most Australians are able to enjoy an extended stay at the beach this weekend. Perhaps many of them will discuss Isreal Folau’s apparent foolishness as they enjoy free time based on the dying vestiges of the religion that he faithfully follows. They will not go to church to celebrate but they will crack another cold one and declare that Australia is the best country in the world, mate.
When I grew up in the 70s my family went to church. I went to Sunday school and I attended a Christian Brothers College, Trinity College in Perth. But one weekend we suddenly didn’t go to church. I was 12 and I didn’t know why but I thought, cool, more time to play!
Our family never went back to church. There was no explanation as to why we stopped attending; we just stopped going. It was not spoken about. But a year later my parents split up and then they got divorced, a bitter and traumatic period that destroyed my own childhood. One sin followed another.
In a way, my own life accurately charts the decline of faith in my native land. The timings are in line with the collective dropping away of church attendance in Australia. And now 30 years later a man is stripped of his livelihood for still actively worshiping that same faith while miserable journalists wring their hands and wail and wonder at why he will not just shut up and take all the money.
Such a stand is seen as outlandish precisely because it is now so uncommon.
This week the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris caught fire and was partially destroyed. Many other writers have already commented that it is a symbol for our time and for the desperate straits that Christianity now finds itself. But Christianity is also our Western nations. If Christianity falls then we also fall. We are intertwined, and that nation that you love so much will be no more if Christianity disappears entirely. We are not above religion and we are not better people than those who lived before us. On the contrary, we are much worse.
This holy Easter weekend is your individual opportunity to begin the process of setting things right. If we are going to win this battle then we must have skin in the game. You cannot say one thing and do something else entirely. The only thing that matters is actions. Words are useful but ultimately useless if they are not followed by deliberate steps. We must begin the process of regaining our nations from the people that we despise and we begin that process by believing once again in one of the bedrocks that founded our nation and which our parents turned away from so many years ago.
So this Easter Sunday we need to go back to church. Nothing else matters.