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Clerics’ message of hope in difficult times – Part 2

A Greek Orthodox pilgrim stands in front of an image of Jesus Christ on the cross during a religious ceremony marking the Apokathelosis, the lowering of Christ’s dead body from the Cross, which forms a key part of Orthodox Easter, in a service at the Church of Profitis Ilias at Aimilianos, a village near Grevena, north west Greece, on April 13, 2017.<br />Millions of Greeks flock to churches around the country this week to celebrate Easter, the country’s foremost religious celebration / AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDIS

• ‘Nigerians Should Use Period To Reconcile With One Another’
• ‘Nigerians Should Take Solace In The Possessor Of Heaven And Earth’
• ‘No Accomplishment Of Ours, Or Achievement Can Ever Rival The Victory Of Easter’

Easter, a unique period in the Christian calendar, is celebrated all over the world by Christians. It marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. As Nigerian Christians join their counterparts globally to mark this season today, what resurrection message do clerics have for citizens in these difficult times, to cheer them up for a victorious 2017? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.

‘I Encourage Nigerians To Have Faith In God’
(Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude, National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)
I would like Nigerians to know that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ brings hope to humanity.
I, therefore, encourage Nigerians to lift up their heads high and have faith in God. Whatever travails or difficulty the nation may be facing today, we would certainly come out of it.

There is no gainsaying that Nigerians are very resilient. They should, therefore, know that, if God raised His Son Jesus from the dead, He would raise up Nigeria from quagmire and its seeming state of despondency. Nigerians should use this period to reconcile with one another and build bridges.

‘God’s Purpose For Nigeria Is Unstoppable, Despite Boko Haram Insurgency’
(Rev. Ikechukwu Ugbaja, National Secretary, Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria)
Take away message of Easter is the unstoppable manner in which Jesus fulfilled God’s purpose, which is sacrosanct. All hurdles were put forth so that Jesus would not rise up from the dead. There was a big stone rolled to cover the tomb, so that in the wisdom of man, even if He rose, He would not be able to come out. Not only that, the stone was sealed, so that no one would be bold enough to tamper with it. As if that was not enough, soldiers were made to guard the tomb, so that no one would come near, let alone anyone coming to steal the body.

In a nutshell, Satan, grave and death all colluded to prevent the purpose of God from being fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The message is then clear. Despite all that were against the purpose of God in the life of Jesus, that purpose became fulfilled gloriously. The conclusion then is that nothing can truncate the purpose of God. When God says ‘Yes’ No one, no creature, spirit or flesh, can say ‘No.’

Rightly applying this principle to our nation, the purpose of God for Nigeria cannot be thwarted by anyone. As it is written in the scriptures: “There may be many devices in the heart of man, but it is only the counsel of God that shall stand.” The Word of God says: “Woe to him that decree an unrighteous decree, speak the word, it shall not stand, come together, ye shall be scattered.” “Woe to him that strive continuously with his Maker.” Whatever God has purposed, no creature, spirit or flesh can prevent it from happening. This is because God is the “Self-existent One,” The Omnipresent, The Omnipotent and The Omniscience.” He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending. Before Him, there was nothing, after Him, there is nothing. His name is Almighty, Great Jehovah in Whom is Everlasting Strength.

Therefore, Nigerians should take solace in the Possessor of Heaven and Earth that no matter what happens, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing will truncate God’s plan for the nation and its inhabitants.

God’s purpose for Nigeria is unstoppable, despite Boko Haram insurgency, spate of kidnapping, corruption and all kinds of challenges confronting the nation. God’s purpose for Nigeria and Nigerians is unstoppable.

‘Because He lives, We Can Face Tomorrow’
(Most Rev. (Dr.) Ephraim Adebola Ademowo, Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
ON Easter Sunday, we rejoice in the restoration of life, which the Good Shepherd gave for the sheep. Easter spells victory over sin and death. It reminds us that when man’s outlook was dark and his eternal future a tragedy, God stepped in, removed the insufferable strain and pacified the hateful enmity between man and God, in order to establish not a temporary armistice, but an everlasting reconciliation. It is crystal clear that no accomplishment of ours, no achievement, can ever rival the victory of
Easter. Therefore, today and each Eastertide, we celebrate the fact and the future, i.e., the fact of resurrection and our future as sharers in the victory.

People of God, we need this victory, especially when we view the long history of the wayward children of men. The insecurity within and without, oppression and suppression in different shades, forms and colours, particularly in Nigeria today, a nation that has been scarred by conflict and stained with innocent blood. We cannot but yearn for the Easter certainty with groaning, which cannot be uttered.

Easter spells it out that death is not the end. We need this assurance that as we have “been killed” everyday, that “our death” daily is not the end, but the beginning of a new life that will dawn pretty soon.

The disciples of old had a similar dilemma that is confronting us today. They love the past, they did not believe in the present and they dreaded the future. The resurrection of Jesus Christ made the difference to them and it should also make the difference in our lives. Because He lives, we can face the tomorrow. We, too, have a future, a glorious future for that matter. A dead Saviour means nothing to us now or instead, the atonement He made was a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Though He was a victim, He was also the Victor, which proved that the atonement He made was acceptable, complete and perfect.

Christ’s resurrection is the model and source of our future resurrection because “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” 1 Cor. 15: 20-22. Christ resurrection is our resurrection. It brings redemption, not only to the people of God, but also to the entire order of creation. Jesus has given us the power of resurrection to revive anything that is dead in our lives, homes, churches, institutions, nation and the world in general. It is time for our leaders to demonstrate the fear of God and consult Him on the affairs of the nation.

The economic situation of this country still calls for concern and we make this passionate appeal to the government to look critically and decisively into our economy, as we believe things can be done better than they are now. As we celebrate Easter, let us, for the sake of God Almighty and our fatherland, accede to the principles for which Christ died, rose and ascended. Therefore, the victory of Easter should lead us to face the perplexities of life with fortitude, holding up our banner with the assurance that because He lives, we shall also live. And it shall be well with our souls. We must remain resolute in our prayers for genuine love and unity in our country.



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