Easter gives us hope of life after –Christians
By Josephine Oguntoyinbo
Easter Sunday marks the end of Lenten season, which is a forty day period of fasting and reflections.
Easter is one of the most important festive events among Christians worldwide as it commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death as written in the Bible.
According to the Gospel of John when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus was buried, she found it empty, an angel later told her that Jesus had risen.
Christians worldwide have celebrated Easter for centuries with special church services, parades, music and candle light, flowers and ringing of church bells among others. Easter processions are held in many churches while christians view Easter as the greatest feast of the church year.
Many denominations like Catholic, Anglican, Christ Apostolic Church, Celestial Church of Christ , Cherubim and Seraphim among others have sacred dramas about the episode of the Easter story while others forsake eating flesh on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
Easter service on Sunday usually follows regular church service tradition with a sermon and special songs composed for Easter. Some churches also hold mass or other services at sunrise.
Liturgical Western Churches including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion among others hold Easter vigil and mass of the liturgical year with exclamatory shouts of “Alleluia” , a distinctive feature of the Easter season.
Christians in Nigeria usually prepare for the Easter celebration that comes up on Sunday and Monday. From banks to the markets, shopping malls and motor parks, Christians are always busy preparing for the celebration .
For christians including children and adults, Easter is a unique celebration. Christians usually dress in their best attires while in the western part of the world, they usually decorate Easter eggs as a vital feature of Easter, they also participate in Easter egg hunt and keep Easter bunnies while attending Easter parades.
When The Hope visited some churches in Akure, the Ondo State capital, worshipers were seen preparing for Easter celebration. While some were decorating their churches, many organized prayer crusades while some went out for evangelism to win more souls for Christ.
However, some christians believe that Easter is not a christian celebration. They believed that Easter is a festival held in honour of a goddess named Ashotoreth. (Ishatar). They are of the opinion that Easter is not biblical.
In a telephone interview with The Hope, the Methodist Archbishop of Lagos Mainland, Most Revd. Obafemi Adeleye, explained that christians started celebrating Easter with a feast soon after the period of the spread of the gospel which is believed to have occurred between 27AD and 33 AD. He added that the time of the year was chosen for the celebration since Jesus celebrated the Pass over shortly before his crucifixion.
“The date of celebration varies from March to April, depending on the date of the match equinox”, he noted.
The Archbishop posited that, “The purpose of celebration is to set aside time for reflections on Jesus Christ, his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.”
“Many sermons are preached concerning the conducts and general lifestyle of every believer during and even after the season which is expected to promote peaceful co-existence in the society. Most importantly in a nation such as ours, Christians have been continually charged to maintain peace and order and live exemplary lives.
The cleric said that during this period, God is expecting christians to come to him, pray and change from their old ways, adding that this season calls for sober reflection and it is a call for the transformation of our lives. “All christians should embrace God the more and do away with whatever is not part of God’s will. We should ensure that we fulfill all the promises made during the Lenten season”.
Also speaking with The Hope is the founder of Christ Apostolic Church, Agbala Emmanuel, Akure, Prophet Kayode Ajifowowe who said that each day is an opportunity to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection and meet the living Christ on every step we take, seek his face and understand his blessings in our midst.
“For me, Easter should mean everything to Christians , because it gives us hope of being with Christ on the last day. All Christians, should remember that Jesus suffered for our sake, hence the need to forsake our sins to enable us share in his kingdom.
“Easter is the basis for Christianity. Jesus gave us life and we must appreciate that. We must recall the suffering of the Lord, the torment and grief he endured. Usually, this period is regarded as a joyful celebration of the resurrection of Christ and this must be reflected in our lifestyles. As we celebrate, I want to urge Christian faithful all over the world to imbibe the virtue of faith and desist from sinful acts. We must learn how to forgive one another as Jesus preaches”.
A member of Catholic Church, Mrs Cecilia Akinkuotu affirmed that Easter period is a season of forgiveness and love saying that is the reason Christ died on the Cross for our sins.
”My message therefore is that we should emulate Christ’s virtues and apply them in our day to day encounter with people, helping those who are helpless, forgiving those who offended us and loving others as ourselves.
“It was through Jesus’ selfless sacrifice that we were cleansed, therefore the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has given us confidence that Satan has been defeated. Let us therefore approach his throne of grace to share in the victory”.
In her words, Prophetess Grace Olanrewaju maintained that Jesus’ resurrection has proven to christians that there is life beyond death, hence the need to live a holy life.
She explained that for 40 days, Jesus appeared to believers, performing miracles, and proving to doubters that he is the Son of God. “That is what helped to establish the church”.
“Easter is an occasion which in must dwell in God’s presence and give account of our lives. It is a time to reflect on the inputs we have made for the kingdom of heaven and our generation as well.
“Christians should celebrate Easter in spirit because Jesus was born and died for our sins. We must ensure that Jesus resurrects in our lives. It is a time for meditation, because it is not easy for someone to lay down his life for the salvation of the world”, she stressed.
A member of the Celestial Church of Christ, Mr Michael Ojo said Easter brings christians together to think about out life, our deeds and our mission on earth.
“We will reflect on all the Easter messages which preach love, forgiveness and unity.
In her own message, a prophetess of Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Mrs Paulina Adeoye noted that without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day, Christianity would have had no meaning.
“Jesus was born like every other human being put on human flesh and came into the world to die for our salvation. The resurrection of Christ on the third day is the reason why Christians continue to have faith, knowing fully well that Jesus died and rose again and as believers, we will equally rise with him on the last day.
“For me, Easter must remain a daily celebration in our lives. As Christians, Jesus died and rose for our sake .
“Jesus gave us assurance of his coming to take the faithful and the righteous to his kingdom”, she said.