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Happy Easter, Realife family! I’m going to go ahead and make the open claim that March 2016 saw the most memorable and powerful Easter Sunday service in this history of our church. 

You walked in the door and were instantly greeted with warmth and happiness. You inhaled the nostalgic aroma of freshly toasted hot cross buns, steaming and mingling with the warm welcome of perfect coffee. Ah, the smell of coffee. When it’s served by the friendly faces and broad smiles of our catering and coffee shop team, you know that this is the church you belong to. The sultanas and cinnamon and crunch of hot cross buns immediately put you in the Easter mood… At least, for me they do, and they certainly did on that brisk Sunday morning.  

Then your gaze wandered to the amazing display at the end of the foyer – a colourful and focal masterpiece with big cardboard carrots and pastel eggs, flowers, bunnies with straw bows looking towards the auditorium. The creative team put a lot of loving hours into it, and this fact is evident. Right next to this beautiful display was our big poster saying, ‘WELCOME’ – and you certainly were.

When you walked into the auditorium the focal point was a wooden frame with a crucifix cut out of the middle. When the stage lights swivelled towards the back of it, the crucifix emitted heavenly streams which filled the place and gave the whole room an atmosphere of reverence for the divine.

You were then shown a video on the massive projector screen, which brought to life the story of that powerful weekend when Jesus was sacrificed at Calvary. The black and white animations were striking and artistic, and the narration emphasised the passion and reality of the story. 

Another video happened straight after, another striking one, and this time a dramatic, home-made skit. It followed the story of a man carrying depression everywhere he goes, despite everything else around him in his life seeming to look up after getting a promotion at his work. This blended seamlessly into an on-screen depiction of some of the Realife youth writing their burdens on paper, placing them into crates and stacking these crates into the form of a large cross: a powerful, artistic metaphor. As this part of the video was being shown, the same structure was being built at the front of the church, making the whole concept of being able to place your cares at the foot of the cross that much more real. On top of all of this, the whole image of salvation was put to the soundtrack of the brilliant music team performing a song called Nothing Holding Me Back, which began, ‘Thank You for the cross that You have carried…’ These images and sounds were not chosen for the sake of doing something nice for a special service. They were chosen and planned to bring to realisation a sense of the beauty and prominence of what happened during those three days and three nights long ago. Every element of worship and performance at the beginning of the service combined to create awe of what Jesus did, rather than what the church teams did.

Then we had the word, and what a profound word it was! Pastor Mauricio shared an Easter message like no other, saying that in order to live, we need to die. In other words, in order to live the full life that God has for us, we need to die to our own plans and agendas. I was heavily challenged, as was everyone I spoke to after the service. He explained it far better than I can, and you can hear this amazing preaching by clicking [here] to download the audio.

After this word, it was time for a little audience participation, and it was breathtaking. You were invited to write down your own personal burdens, and place them down at the foot of the large crate-formed cross. In laying them down, you were then able to pick up a card which had a special encouragement on it. Each encouragement was unique and seemed to be tailored exactly for its owner.

My card’s encouragement is now framed and proudly displayed on my bedside table as a reminder of the Lord’s love for me, which is something I don’t realise often enough. 

After the word, there was more worship, and then fellowship over more coffee and more hot cross buns. There were craft activities for the kids (whereby even some adults relished in releasing their inner child), and the whole congregation seemed relieved of their burdens, inspired, and joyful.

Endless thanks must go to everyone who was involved in making Easter Sunday the phenomenon it was. We are a church focused on connecting, and from this service it was so evident that every member of Realife was united in heart and mind.

God bless you as you enter into a new week!

Emma W.