Easter Reflections from our Bush Chaplains
April 11, 2022
Rev Lindsay Parkhill
Bush Chaplain from West Arnhem Remote Area, Northern Territory
Easter marks renewal. The bush food is prolific. The rain has flushed out all the big fish and hunting is easy. The monsoon season has passed and hopefully the Border Store (Cahills) crossing has gone down enough enabling travel into Arnhem Land where families can visit their ancestral homelands. Maybe the road will be open as far as Maningrida, which has been part of the biosecurity zone and locked out all but essential visitors up until lately. But the bush telegraph and social media have been running hot and families have been meeting to fellowship and are ready to celebrate with gatherings. Cross dedication ceremonies are planned at Mumeka, Mudginberri, Capalyarra, Ngakalawarra, Kewelyi, Karratha and other homelands. The Spirit is alive and moving in Arnhem Land!
Just as the women found the tomb empty on that Easter two thousand years ago, today people who have been living in their country for 60,000 years are celebrating the renewal of life and the start of another season of faith that involves passing from death to new life. Many are the funerals that already are being planned following delays due to the monsoons. With the sadness of the passing of loved ones is also the celebration of a life lived and now gone to God. There will be more funerals, but Easter reminds us that with death comes a new life and Spirit returns to country.
As a Bush Chaplain I have the rare privilege to participate in these ceremonies of renewal after months of confinement. Easter marks a transition to a new season. The church calls that new season Pentecost. It is called Yekke here in Jabiru. What do you call your season of renewal?
Rev Gary Ferguson
Bush Chaplain from Ceduna Remote Area, South Australia
Easter to me stands for hope and new beginnings. It is the season of hope for farmers around Australia. If they get a good opening rain, it will be the time to sow new seeds, and shower them with love and see them through the growing season. It is also the time to sow in new hope for the future, and the time to get on with a normal life. This Easter, I will be grateful for all the doctors and the nurses around rural and remote Australia. I hope they will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They have often been overlooked, as the world got busy coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. In our small country town, it is important that we look after and care for each other. Easter Sunday will fill us with hope. Let us bring hope to those who have none left. As a Bush Chaplain, let us turn up at the door of those that need us the most. The need is great.
Rev John Dihm
Bush Chaplain from Pilbara Remote Area, Western Australia
Easter celebrates the hope of salvation and assurance of triumph over adversities. Ours is a Ministry of People. We as Ministers of the church extend a helping hand for all people, and we welcome diversity with open arms. Every human being reaches a fork in the road at some time in his or her life. When they have no one to turn to, they turn to us. Sometimes in the line of duty, we witness “miracles”. These miracles take place when broken men sitting in their cattle yards lost in despair take our hands and embrace our help. Easter will be the time for people to slow down, travel safely and catch their breath after battling back-to-back disasters across the country.
Pastor Julia Lennon
Bush Chaplain from Oodnadatta Remote Area, South Australia
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” Luke 24: 32
I am a Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal woman born and raised in Oodnadatta. I grew up holding the Bible in my heart and enjoyed every picture before knowing any of the words. I believe Easter is a time of hope, giving, sharing and caring for others no matter who we are. We are all accountable for our actions and what we do. As Christians we need to be open to God’s grace, being ready to carry out God’s plans and experiencing more of God’s love and His purpose.
It was the cross that made a difference. It was the cross that changed me and made me into who I am today.
Rev. Sunil (Sunny) Kadaparambil
Bush Chaplain from Parkin-Sturt Remote Area, South Australia
Easter truly signifies a new start for all, irrespective of their faith. Over the many years I have spent in my patch, the community has undergone far-reaching impacts of one natural disaster after another. It almost feels like the tough times will last forever. Hidden behind the smile on their faces is a lot of pain and suffering deep within. The farmers and small business owners have borne the brunt of the drought followed by the floods, and the pandemic to top it all. But out in the bush, there is still hope – the hope to rise up every time you get pushed to the ground. That is the resilience our communities across rural and remote Australia are known for. This is not the end. The hurt and the suffering may seem like Good Friday, but there is an Easter Sunday in the waiting. That is the message of Christ to all.