End evil with Easter, say clerics
‘It is a period to upgrade oneself spiritually and not retrogress in this wise’
Globally, many Christians are celebrating Easter, which is all about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The period is significantly connected with hope, joy, love and renewal, all of which are badly needed in a world filled with so much horror, sorrow and anguish. Nigeria is not an exception, as the citizens battle to stay afloat amidst economic instability, poverty and general despair. So then, how should this joyful occasion be celebrated so that its essence is maximally utilised for everyone’s benefit? How can the occasion be made to impact positively and fruitfully on the lives of the faithful? CHRIS IREKAMBA and EKEMENA AZAINO report.
‘At Easter Whatever Is Dead Comes Alive Again’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos)
EASTER by its very nature is a celebration that speaks of hope—that whatever is dead can come alive again and whatever we have lost, would be found. Whatever challenges we have, cannot last forever because Christ rose from the dead. Therefore, we are saved because He lives. That is the first thing — that our people should have hope even when faced with difficulties and trials. As we hope, we should also pray that the challenges of our time would be overcome by God’s grace. I want to also wish Nigerians a happy Easter celebration, as well as congratulate Christians for their steadfastness during the 40-day Lenten season. This period requires that Christians remain faithful to their Creator and allow the spiritual gains of the Lenten season permeate their lives throughout the remainder of the year and even beyond. Nigerians should not relent in their daily prayers to the Almighty God for His intervention in the country’s affairs; He would surely answer their prayers.
Though millions of Nigerians are currently going through excruciating hardship occasioned by current economic reality, the assurance is that the downturn is only a temporary challenge, but with prayers and purposeful leadership, the challenges are surmountable by God’s grace. It is also important that at this point in our nation, the leadership should be more pragmatic in its approach to solving the numerous challenges facing the country through paying more attention to specific areas that have direct impact on the masses such as revamping the power sector, adequate fuel supply and creation of more jobs. It is no longer news that Nigeria is going through very tough times, as is evident in the high rate of inflation, low value of the Naira and rising rate of unemployment across the country. But I want to state here that we must not lose hope.
‘Easter Should Remind Us Of Christ’s Purpose On Earth’
(Primate Samson D.D. Albert (Arojah), Spiritual Head, St. Peter’s Cherubim and Seraphim Band, Ketu, Lagos)
WE must value all festive seasons because when we observe them, we are made happy. These things are church doctrines. For example, Christmas might fall on a Tuesday and everybody would be required to go to church. There are some churches that don’t observe these festive seasons and yet God answers their prayers. We observe these occasions in our church, especially Easter because that is when our Lord Jesus Christ died for us. His birth is equally important. I think His death is very crucial. I have certain passion for Christ, especially during the Good Friday, two days before His resurrection. For somebody to have gone through that trauma is pathetic. Easter is a festive period that should remind us of Christ’s death, when Christians should reflect on why He died for mankind. Lenten period is not just for fasting and praying after which people return to their old, bad ways. Those things that have been abandoned during that fasting period should be excluded from people’s lives; otherwise you’ve not gained anything from the season.
Easter is a period to remind us of our misdeeds, and the resolve to renew our consecration and commitment to God. It is a period to upgrade oneself spiritually and not retrogress in this wise. We should ask ourselves this question: Last year, what was the level of my relationship with my Creator and what must I do this year to upgrade myself spiritually? So, my message to Christians is to let the passion of Christ reflect in our conduct. The problem we have in Nigeria today is from the church. If people realise what they are doing and the repercussion therein they wouldn’t do it. For instance, if you tell somebody that if he does this thing, this is what will happen to him, but that if he obeys God, that danger is averted, he wouldn’t want to do it. And if the church leader lives in an exemplary manner, church members would listen to him/her.
If you go to Facebook and see the kind of criticisms and abuses going on there, you will wonder whether Nigerians are truly godly or we just profess to be spiritual. But all this is sin. Imagine a situation where because he is on Facebook, a small boy would be abusing his elder, who also happens to be his father. Sometimes a kabiyesi would be talking and one small boy would tell him to ‘shut up’ or a pastor would be saying something and someone would be abusing him. It is not done. Some of these things are affecting us as a nation though one may not know it. There is no fear of God any more and yet there are churches everywhere.
No president has ever done right before Nigerians; it has always been curses and abuses, all of which are affecting us as a nation. What we are heaping on our leaders is affecting us as a nation. They can never think straight with this attitude, because Nigeria is God’s own country. God dwells in Nigeria. They will get it right one day; so let us continue to pray for those in authority. Let our religious leaders agree to work together; we must respect our elders. Even in offices, bosses have to be respected.
‘I Don’t Think Easter Should Be A Time For Money Making’
(Pastor Isaac Adeyemi, Senior Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos)
EASTER is a time of remembering what Jesus Christ represents, that is all. And if there is any living church that would not want to celebrate what Jesus represents, then that church must be a dead one. For me, Easter period is a time for sober reflection, a time to work out something that will benefit the God’s kingdom. I don’t think it should be a time of making money. Rather, it should be a time for reflecting on Easter, the personality of Jesus Christ and the work He came to do for man. Reflecting on the deliverance and the life guaranteed for man is to me more important. It should come first, while every other thing is secondary.
There is nothing wrong with cashing on opportunities, but much more than that people should see beyond the opportunity of establishing commerce. They should see the main event and what it represents. Thereafter, if for instance you have a company and you believe you want to roll out something and put Jesus Christ there and people will buy, so be it. But let it not start and stop there. Let it make meaning to your own life. I think it would do a world of good for those really seeing beyond the opportunity of making money, because whatever you do here perishes here.
‘We Must Remain Resolute In Our Prayers For Genuine Love And Unity In Nigeria
(Most Revd. Dr. E. Adebola Ademowo, Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion/ Bishop of Lagos)
WHEN we are fully aware that death is real, are we prepared for that new reality, which is the resurrection? We have noted that this is the supreme fact that gives every Christian a future. Also on this fact hinges our resurrection to life everlasting at the last day. This Easter truth – “He is risen” – gives us the divine and blessed assurance that all our sins are removed. In three letters, the word ‘sin’ embraces all that makes for ugliness and mars human happiness. It is sin which cuts man from God, which fills him with the thoughts of death as terror and robs him of the hope of a blessed eternity.
Easter is a reality, a season of joy and hope, celebrated yearly to remember the total victory that Christ won for the entire human race over sin, suffering and death.
Paul in 1 Cor. 15: 14 & 16 says “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and so is your faith”. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin. 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. His resurrection is our resurrection. It brings redemption not only to God’s people, 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 generally. As we celebrate Easter, let us, for the sake of God Almighty and our fatherland, acceded 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 banners with the assurance that because He lives, we too shall live. And it shall be well with our souls. We must remain resolute in our prayers for genuine love and unity in our country.
‘Christians And Political Leaders Should Emulate Christ’
(Chief Enock Ajiboso, National Chairman, Christian Conscience Group)
WE enjoin politicians at all levels to emulate Jesus Christ, Who during His lifetime was an embodiment of love, peace and integrity. Until these virtues are emulated, our political leaders will continue to depend on their own strength rather than allowing Christ to lead them aright.
Our goodwill message to Christians and political leaders in the country at Easter is that they should allow Christ to always direct their affairs by loving one another. When we emulate Christ, there will be peace, integrity and love rather than the politically induced senseless killings of innocent citizens. Rather than allow Christ to anoint them for leadership roles, political leaders are forcing themselves on the people and have made politics a do-or-die affair, forgetting that only God anoints leaders. If our political leaders have embraced what Jesus came and died for and the reason for which He shed His blood on the Cross, who knows what the late young man and those that lost their loved ones would have become in future.
Corinthians 13:13 enjoins believers to abide with faith, hope and love, which Christ stood for. It shall be great in no distance future, if we allow His will to direct our steps.
We call on Nigerians to support the Buhari-Osinbajo government more than before, especially now that the budget has been passed so as to fulfill their campaign promises.
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