Christians all over the world are in the Easter mood, beginning from last Friday which was Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was crucified on the Cross of Calvary where He shed His blood over 2,000 years ago for the atonement of the sins of mankind. The death, resurrection on the third day and ascension of Jesus usually mark the high point of very significant religious activities in the Christian calendar regarded as fundamental to their faith.
What is being observed in this season is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ after the harrowing suffering and death of a perfect Messiah who abandoned the glory of His heavenly abode on a divine mission to rescue man and reconcile him to his Maker by His death and resurrection.
To commemorate the occasion, the federal government declared Friday and today as public holidays. In his Easter message to Nigerian Christians, President Muhammadu Buhari said the occasion provided the opportunity to renew hope and faith, show love and appreciation to one another and not to despair, no matter the challenges of the period.
He said: “As a government, we will continue to ensure that the weak, the poor and the underprivileged in our midst are not abandoned.”
The President noted that at the last Easter celebrations were somewhat subdued due to the effect of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic but expressed the joy that this time around, Christian faithful “are able to congregate and worship together, cautiously.”
The journey to Easter began with the 40-day Lent during which Christians fasted, prayed and solidified their relationship with God. En route to the celebration, the adherents of the Christian religion also observed the Palm Sunday as well as Good Friday which is in remembrance of the agony, shame and mockery that Jesus was subjected to by his fellow Jews and Roman soldiers on the Cross of Calvary.
The importance of the season to Christendom cannot be over-flogged. It is during this period – from Lent to Easter Monday – that Christians mostly exhibit the virtues of love, sacrifice, altruism and forgiveness as exemplified by Jesus Christ during His ministry on earth that spanned a period of three and a half years. Even for churches that traditionally do not observe the other historic seasons like Christmas, Easter holds a sacred place as the keystone of their worship.
We rejoice with our Christian brothers and sisters around the world during this year’s Easter celebration. However, this year’s commemoration has come at a time, especially in Nigeria, when the citizens are experiencing severe hardship which is fallout of the pandemic.
It is noteworthy that Christ’s ministry was associated with the poor, the needy and the afflicted.
Our leaders, irrespective of their religious persuasions, should truly imbibe the spirit of Easter which is sacrifice to mankind. It is an irony that a nation blessed with unquantifiable natural and human resources harbours some of the poorest people on earth, simply because its leaders’ pastime, until lately, was looting of the treasury and transferring the looted funds to western and Middle East nations. It is no surprise that with the inequality in the land, our country has become one of the most dangerous places on the planet to live in.
The Christians in particular should show example of the kind of love that Christ displayed by offering Himself as a sacrifice that all may have abundant life here on earth and the opportunity of eternal life hereafter. Such love, which transcends personal and selfish gratification, should be extended to non-Christian brothers and sisters with all genuineness.
We urge Nigerians to see this occasion as a period to demonstrate the spirit of religious tolerance, forgiveness and love for one another. They should pray for a united, stable and prosperous Nigeria that is free of insecurity, armed banditry, kidnapping and allied crimes. Both the government and the governed must henceforth live each day as Easter.
Happy Easter celebration!