While enjoying the long-weekend holiday and Easter eggs, it's appropriate to pause and reflect on the universal messages of self-sacrifice and hope. Whether Christian or not, the goal to achieve peace and grace is one we can all share.
Pope Francis began a series of teachings on hope last year. He said it's important because "hope never disappoints". "Optimism disappoints, but hope does not; and we have a great need for it in these times that appear bleak ... we need hope," the pontiff said.
He continued the theme on Wednesday in Holy Week, telling pilgrims that Jesus' saving death and resurrection show that self-giving love can transform darkness into light, sin into forgiveness, apparent defeat into eternal victory. Pope Francis decried materialism, saying "it's a nasty kind of thirst, the more you have the more you want" and at the end you will lose everything.
Canberra's Uniting Church presbytery co-chairs, Vanessa Crimmins and John Williams, said Easter was about finding new life in a grace-filled relationship with God. For individuals, they said this meant being unselfish, not rushing to judge others, speaking up for justice and sacrifice.
They reminded us that Jesus mixed and shared meals with the marginalised, the outcast, those in need of healing and women held to be of no account.
"Should you find some quiet time this Easter we encourage you to explore the opportunities for grace-filled actions in your life," they said. "They will come to you should you seek them, no matter how small they might seem."
Sacrifice and hope are shining virtues in a world that appears teetering on the brink of major conflict. The war in Syria, sabre rattling in Korea, the rise of nationalism and terror attacks warn that peace is fragile and cannot be taken for granted.
Hope reigned at the end of the Cold War, but new threats have emerged and global security is uncertain.
Canberra's Catholic Archbishop, Christopher Prowse, said this week that conversion of hearts from hatred to peace was the ultimate prayer. "It is the beginning point of our shared hope that the future will bring forth the practical harvest of joy and mutual respect in society," he said.
Those who believe in the power of prayer should heed the archbishop's call and none of us should surrender hope.
Civil authorities need more than hope and prayer to ensure the wellbeing and security of citizens. Diplomacy, defence and vigilance are more important now than they have been for decades.
The role of the United States in global affairs under Donald Trump has changed from being the bedrock of stability to one that is potentially incendiary.
Several Australian politicians and former leaders have signalled in recent weeks that Australia may need to forge a more independent path. That will be a necessary consideration if tensions escalate between the US and China.
Despite the volatility, Easter is also a time to share with family and friends. There is much to be thankful for and many reasons to maintain hope.