After several days and nights of high wire tension over the presidential elections, millions of Nigerian Christians will today join fellow Christians worldwide to point to the celebration of the empty tomb. Today is Easter Sunday. Easter is the most important Christian religious holiday and widely regarded as the second most popular holiday after Christmas. In the Catholic religion there are 40 days of fasting preceding Easter.

File photo: Church choir

The Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on holy Saturday. It is observed to imitate the 40-day fast of Jesus before his death. Generally only one meal a day is allowed and meals shouldn’t include meat or fish. Exceptions apply for children and the elderly. The day after the lent period ends people eat a rich breakfast – break the fast – which consists of eggs, ham, bread and fish followed by games throughout the day.

Did you know that the word “breakfast” originates from “breaking the fast” after a 40 day Lent period preceding Easter?

The origin of Easter

The month of April was dedicated to Eastre the Anglo-Saxon goddess of offspring and fertility, her symbol being the rabbit. Eggs and rabbits symbolize birth and fertility in many cultures, with eggs decorated in bright colors and given away as gifts. In 325 A.D., at the Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine issued the Easter Rule stating that Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25. Nowadays, many Christians, in place of Easter, celebrate Resurrection Sunday to commemorate that Christ is risen from the dead and He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.

The beauty of Easter

Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu described Easter as the greatest feast in Christendom.

According to him, “Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar. On this Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His crucifixion.

The fulfillment of our faith

Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. St. Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (I Corinthians 15:17). Through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin, and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.

The resurrection and Christianity

The resurrection is central to the Christian’s faith! It was indeed a “New Creation,” immeasurable by time, because it was not a “coming back” from the dead. It was a going beyond death. It was not a coming back to mortal existence (as was true for Lazarus). It was nothing less than Jesus’ entrance into the life of God. The Risen One can never die. He is totally in God who is all life. Jesus entered into an entirely new kind of existence: an immortal existence that robbed the grave of its victim, not temporarily, but forever

New hope for humanity

The risen of Christ from the dead brought forth new hope for a lost world. With the resurrection, humanity is now sure of sharing eternal life with God, provided we believe and accept Him. By His resurrection, Christ gave a deadly blow to the mortal body and transformed same for immortality, life everlasting. Thus, one day, this our earthly body shall be no more and we also shall rise in glory with our eternal Father. Hallelujah

Christ has risen,

Easter is not just a happy ending to Jesus’ story. It is a radical new beginning for him and for the human race. The grave was no terminal event for him. And because of him, it will never be such for us either. Easter means that what is mortal becomes what is eternal. Eternal life for Jesus and for all of humanity was born in the grave. Easter is the gateway into the new paradise. Jesus risen from the dead is the new Adam. He is also, in Paul’s words, “the first-born of many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29). We are those brothers and sisters. For us, therefore, Easter speaks of the process, already begun in our baptism, of our entering into eternal life.

Easter is indeed the story that lives forever.

President, The Way of Reconciliation Evangelistic Ministries (TWOREM), Lagos, Rev. Oladipupo Funmilade-Joel, in his Easter message, described the essence of fiesta as love, sharing and making a covenant with Christ to be responsibly effective in sharing Christ with others.

Funmilade-Joel stressed that Christ death and resurrection is the guarantee for the forgiveness of the sinner who believes in Him…, adding that resurrection of Christ always bring joy, peace, hope and blessing to the believers.

The cleric stressed the need for Nigerians to pray more for this period of national unrest, insecurity and economic depression as only God can redeem the country.

He also urged prayers for the Lord to heal the nation’s wounds and enthrone peace, while Christians in the troubled North were enjoined to hold on to their faith in the face of bombings and killings.

 

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.