Messages of hope: Faith has found a way in Tweed this Easter
FAITH in the Tweed has found a way.
The coronavirus pandemic may have disrupted traditional Easter church services but technology is allowing congregations to connect online.
St Joseph's Catholic Parish in Tweed Heads is one of those leading the online charge by reaching their members via emails and YouTube videos.
The parish is sending out weekly emails with Sunday liturgies, has started a Facebook page and is making regular contact with parishioners to check on their welfare.
Father Michael Brady said while many were having a "most unusual Easter", not being together physically didn't mean they couldn't be together spiritually.
"It is of upmost importance to us to stay connected," he said.
"At this time of Easter let us take the time to pray together for the safety and wellbeing of the whole world. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us. We are there for you. Have a happy and safe Easter never underestimating the power of prayer."
Tweed Valley Uniting Church's June Rogan said the Murwillumbah-based church had set up a pastoral care program for older members of the church who were not online.
"We have set up a circle of care, which is not just members of the church but all sorts of people who might be isolated and they get phone link-ups," she said.
"Someone is checking in on them every day. Many say it's the most phone calls they have ever had."
The church is also producing a regular newsletter, which comes out with encouraging words, bible verses and food for thought by email or post.
"While we won't personally have anything for Good Friday or Easter Sunday we are encouraging our members to access other services online," Ms Rogan said.
"Our Easter message to the world is stay hopeful and stay encouraged as we are not alone, God is still with us because He promised He will be and Easter is all about that promise."
The Hub Baptist Church in Tweed Heads will stream a Sunday Sunrise Service at 6am, as well as Easter Sunday service at 9.30am through its website.
Senior pastor Stephen Smith said for anyone who was finding things hard, the church had food relief bags available.
"Or if they would like someone to talk to they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be in touch," he said.
Murwillumbah's Sacred Heart Parish is also using technology to connect to members any way they can, including YouTube and email.
"Fr Donnelly, who was my parish priest for eight years when I was appointed to Port Macquarie, always said one of the best ways to imitate Christ was to be of service," Fr Anthony Lemon said.
"I encourage you to find a way to serve and care throughout this difficult time. I believe, as Bishop Greg has already said, that we will come out of this time better human beings, because when it counted we were people of love, service and care for one another.
"If you need an example of selfless people, remember our bushfire fighters and currently our frontline medical personnel."
Pastor Lachlan Jones from Tweed's Elevation Church said for the last three weeks the church had been doing online services with a chat platform, accessible via their website.
"Our world needs hope right now and as Christians we have the greatest message of hope for all time," he said.
"Whether in a pandemic or normal life, we all need to know our hope is in Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sin and rose again for our victory. Easter is God shouting to the world 'I love you'."
Banora Point Uniting Church's the Rev John Hopping explained the community could access services through the church's website.
"We wish safety and health to all," he said.
"God bless this Easter, Jesus is alive."
Tweed Coast Community Baptist Church's online services for Easter can be accessed on their website.
The Rev Russell Hinds said: " Can we believe it? I can only give you my personal testimony. Some years ago, I visited the Holy Land. One morning we visited the spot called the Garden Tomb, the place believed by many people to be the actual site of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We saw Golgotha where Jesus was crucified alongside two thieves. Then we
walked to the place where an ancient tomb has been hewn out of the limestone side of
a mountain. Like all the first-century tombs, it has two chambers-one chamber where
they placed the dead bodies and one chamber where loved ones could come to mourn
the dead. One by one we filed into the outer chamber, once inside it takes a few
moments for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then you see it, the burial chamber
with a ledge carved in the limestone. The very place where Joseph and Nicodemus
would have placed the body of Jesus late on Friday evening.
Every detail of the Garden Tomb perfectly fits the biblical description for the burial
place of Jesus Christ. Everything is just as the Bible says it should be-everything
except one thing. The body is gone! The tomb is empty!
As you leave the Garden Tomb, a hand-carved sign catches your attention. It says very
simply, "He is not here, for He is risen."
If a man dies, will he live again? Yes! Yes! Yes! Here is the answer to the greatest
question, the deepest question, the final question."