For Christians, a special season for special reason
As the Christians across the world begin the celebration of Easter Season this week, DEBO OLADIMEJI, EKEMENA AZAINO, TANBA STEPHEN and OLISA VICTORIA ask clergies about their understanding of the significance of the Easter in the modern age.
The voice of Pope Francis on Vatican radio was loud, clear and slow as he addressed the General Audience on Wednesday morning March 23 at St. Peter’s Square, Rome.
The Holy Father who offered his speech in Spanish dedicated his catechetical remarks to the Paschal Triduum – the three-day liturgical action that makes the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus come alive at the Easter.
Pope Francis exhorted his audience including pilgrims and tourists from everywhere to celebrate Easter with gratitude for God’s mercy, and later offered them prayer saying, “May the Lord bless you all and protect you from the Evil One!”
With this prayer, the Pope has welcomed the world to the mood of Easter Season.
But why is the Easter such a significant event in the lives of Christians of every generation?
Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is the day the world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is timed after a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
The Easter festival is also linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar.
Customarily, Easter has always been observed on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox (the time when the sun crosses the equator). Therefore, Easter always falls between March 22nd and April 25th. This is not always so.
According to SermonSearch.com, an online research resource, the early Christians observed Easter on the 14th day of Nisan (April) regardless of what day of the week it fell on.
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Revd Dr Alfred Adewale Martins described the Easter as a celebration of hope.
“Hope that whatever is dead can come alive again; that whatever we have lost, we will find. Whatever challenges we have, cannot last forever because Christ rose from the dead, he lives and we are saved. 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 will be overcome by the grace of God.”
He charged Nigerians to see the Easter season as a period to renew their faith in God and shun greed and selfishness because “these are the things making life difficult for Nigerians.
Rev. Martins views the Easter season as a period to also charge the government to take the welfare of Nigerians more seriously.
He said the government should make and enforce polices that will help eradicate poverty and suffering in the country so that the ordinary citizens will have a sense of belonging.”
Speaking to The Guardian about the significance of Easter, The Prelate of Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Uche said Easter is the hallmark around which Christian faith oscillates.
“Without Easter everything about Christian faith will crumble. If Jesus Christ did not resurrect from the dead, or if he had died as a criminal, there would be no Easter.”
He linked the importance of Easter to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ who, according to the clergy, was the first in history to resurrect from the dead.
“He is a superior prophet, priest and Son of God by his resurrection, which signifies the victory over sin, death and Satan. The power of God is above the power of sin. It means Jesus has received all power and authority to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords.”
He said Good Friday would have been the worst Friday if there was no resurrection.
“Archaeologists have tried to go and exhume the body of Jesus but they can’t find his body anywhere they have made effort over two years before now but they have never succeeded.”
Sceptics have often debunked the existence of Jesus because archaeological evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ is yet to be been discovered,
But Dr. Uche has dismissed the claim of the sceptics. He said those of them in the field always have revelation from Jesus Christ through the third person of the trinity. “All what we preach and the churches you see are evidences of Christ resurrection.”
He said by the lesson of Easter, Christian should know that sacrifice, uprightness, transparency, love and patriotism are the way to go because Jesus Christ was an epitome of sacrifice, servant-leadership, selfless, patriotism, love for humanity and he never regretted it. I believe that one must stoop to conquer if you don’t humble yourself, God may not exalt you. Those who see themselves as servants of all always have the benefit of God’s blessing. It calls for honesty, diligence, and prayerful dedication, soberness of mind, love, and willingness to serve without asking for so much reward because Jesus gave all.”
Dr. Uche railed against the corrupt public officers in the country. He said those who looted the public treasury are not good Christians. “Those who indulge themselves in corruption are not good Christian but nominal churchgoers. A Christian should be a good custodian of public trust anything given to you do should be done in honesty, diligently, selflessly, sacrificially, transparently that is how Christian should be know. Christians should contribute to national development, economic recovery, attaining an enviable height. Nigeria can still bounce back to dynamism in spite of the economic downturn is it is because of the cankerworms and palmerworms in the country. It is not late for us to come to our senses”.
He urges Nigerians to love and tolerate one another. “We should not discriminate one another because Jesus died for all not only for the Christians.”
The founder of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele also spoke to The Guardian why Easter is significant.
He said Easter is a period of prayers for forgiveness, sharing love with others.
“It is a period when we remember the disadvantaged people in our society. It is a period of purification, fortification. It is a period when we remember the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins. Unfortunately, some churches do not believe in those things.
Some churches do not believe in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is just unfortunate that there is no proper coordination in Christendom. Everybody does things according to their own understanding, not necessarily in the ways of God.
Easter is a period of remembering the less fortunate people. It is a period when we should humble ourselves and get closer to God.
Christianity is all about love because God is love. It is not only during the fiesta that we should give or show love. We should give and show love on daily basis.
Mr. Udjor Daniel, a gold cross-bearer and the former circle leader of Festac Circle, The Grail Movement said Easter is an important event in creation. It is sad to know that mankind has strayed from the right part.
“In the beginning of creation Mankind started as a spirit gem, brought to the world of matter to develop into perfection but somewhere along the line we missed it, got itself off from its source of origin becoming people without a spiritual component which makes us to be a problem to creation. Following this mankind could not complete the development due to the fact that they have forgotten their spiritual homeland. So the coming of Jesus was to restore that broken link so that man could once again be spiritual but he was crucified. He performed the task but it was not that successful because mankind refuses to take his teachings. God never want it that way but humans out of wickedness and hatred for his teachings killed him. This period should be for sober reflection and self-renewal just as creation renews itself we should reflect on Christ teachings and try to live accordingly, so it is an important event.
Prophet Fidelis Torunerigha a top ranking member of the Celestial Church of Christ Oluti Parish, said Easter is important because Christ came to this wicked world, sacrificed his life to bring salvation for those who believed in him, among all in the human race.
“It is significant because it is a memorial, as commanded by Christ that his followers should keep taking the bread, which means his body and the wine, which signifies his blood, so we all have to do this.”
Rt. Rev. John U. Aruakpor, Bishop of Oleh Diocese of Anglican Communion said Easter is a confirmation of our faith that what we believe is real in accordance with the scriptures that Christ will die and rise from the dead on the third day.
“Christ did not leave his body in the grave unlike other people who die and remain in the grave. Without Easter, Christianity is just like any other religion. Easter symbolizes that any dead thing in our lives can come back to live just as Jesus rose from the dead, only if we believe it.
“We are calling upon Nigerians to look up to Jesus Christ who can redeem us from all our troubles and difficulties. All the problems we are passing through are beyond human ability. I call on all Nigerians to repent from all their sins so as to enjoy the benefits of Easter.”
And for those ones who think Easter is a fairy tale, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of Episcopal Church South West; the United States has this to say in his 2016 Easter message: “This week called Holy Week, the remembrance of Jesus entering Jerusalem and offering His life in the ultimate act of sacrificial love. Good Friday, the experience of betrayal, the experience of friends abandoning you, the experience of injustice and wrong, criminal self-centered conspiracies. And then beyond that Holy Week, the resurrection from the dead. This is not a fairy tale.”
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