It’s something of a cliché these days that Easter has become over-commercialised and the true meaning of it forgotten. (That’s not to deny, of course, that it also has pagan, as well as Christian origins.) So it is hardly surprising that in their Good Friday messages Australian church leaders have been preaching against modern consumerism trends, and urging congregations to use the occasion for “meditation” (Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart) and “time for family and friends and refreshment” (Acting Dean of the Anglican St Paul’s Cathedral, Ray Cleary). Anglican Archbishop Dr Philip Freier went even further, criticising banks, mining companies and the treatment of asylum seekers, and calling for more equitable distribution of wealth, while making reference to the Occupy movement.
But it’s reassuring to read that despite pressures “to make it a big commercial weekend” there was evidence of considerable generosity among Victoria’s population, as the Royal Children’s Hospital raised a total of $5 million in its annual Good Friday Appeal. $180,000 of this was raised in Australia’s biggest Easter egg hunt, at Werribee Park, where 7500 people took part. There were also street collections, and firefighters took part in a 24-hour fund-raising relay. An excellent effort… and record numbers of young multicultural Australians still managed to attend traditional Christian Good Friday celebrations.
It seems that generosity – and faith – is alive and well in Oz!
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