Easter Celebration: A Faltering Tradition?

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When Easter started it was remarkable in the sense that it bore the greatest witness and testimony to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Saviour of mankind.

Today marks the end of the Lenten period earmarked to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the saviour of mankind. Millions of Christian faithful join in celebrating this outstanding event in Christendom which is referred to as Easter.

And because of the deep spiritual undertone attached to the celebration of Easter, Christians take advantage of the period to make amend for their broken lives, using the blood of Jesus Christ as the basis for such spiritual cleansing.

As a period of penitence and purgation of sin for spiritual rebirth, Easter is seen as a season of deep reflections on the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made to redeem mankind.

But observations on the celebration of Easter in recent times, portray that the deep spiritual undertone attached to the celebration is gradually whittling down, giving way to what appears as a mere social interpretation of the event. The seeming slack in deep spiritual reflection among most Christians regarding the celebration of Easter has been attributed to many factors.

To some religious pundits, ignorance is at the root of such deviation from the norm, while others see it as the fallout of the vested dispositions of church operators who seize on the Easter period to promote their religious enterprise.

Again, close observations on the celebration of Easter reveal that most church owners use the period of Easter to introduce various categories of programmes of vested interest in the media with an orgy of competition. The hub of such messages are mostly centred on the promise of financial breakthrough and prosperity rather than deep reflection on the ultimate sacrifice of love which Jesus Christ the foundation of Christianity established.

Rev. Father, George Babep, the resident Priest of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, in reaction to the seeming contradictions in the celebration of Easter, said it was wrong to treat Easter as a social event. The young Catholic Priest said Easter is a mandate by Jesus Christ to all Christians to mark his death and resurrection.

With Biblical allusion, he said Jesus Christ became the revelational fulfillment of the Paschal Lamb of Passover as recorded in the book of Exodus. By his death and resurrection, he said Jesus paid the price for the sin of mankind and Easter represents that divine atonement and as such should be celebrated with sober reflection and the expression of love.

“The lukewarm attitude of most Christians to the celebration of Easter is because they don’t understand what Easter is all about. The Catholic church follows the laid down procedure and actually does the calculation to arrive at the date.

Easter should not be treated as a social event but should be seen as a period of dying and being resurrected with Jesus Christ,” Babep added.

The General Overseer of His Grace Bible Church Rukpokwu, Pastor Raphael Chineme also shared similar views with Rev. Fr Babep on the celebration of Easter. According to Pastor Chineme, Easter is a very important event in Christendom which sustains the hope and convictions of all Christians.

As believers, he said Christians are expected to use the season of Easter to put back the message of love to the society as replicated by Jesus Christ. He said Easter is the only event in Christianity that has authentic historical background as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles where Christ admonished his followers to celebrate in his memory. He cautioned Christians to be steadfast and not allow themselves to be carried away by religious misinterpretation and self seeking motives.

For Dr. George Matthew Ela, the seeming decline in the spiritual interpretation of the message of Easter is because people are swayed by inherent indoctrinations among various churches. He said when Easter started it was remarkable in the sense that it bore the greatest witness and testimony to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Saviour of mankind. For this reasons he said Easter calls for sober reflections, messages of salvation and sacrifice. But he regretted that the growing intolerance among Christians today had reduced Easter to a secular and common place event.

This, according to him is because, “the church is becoming worldly, and the world is becoming churchly.

Dr Ela, a graduate of religion from Andrews University, Mitchigan, said Easter is an expressed command from the Lord Jesus Christ to his followers to celebrate the holy communion as a mark of remembrance and constant reminder of his unfettered love for mankind.

He called on christians to use the period of Easter to practise a life of sacrifice and preach peaceful co-existence among fellow christains. He also appealed to ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to always tell the truth to their members and not distract them from serving God according to biblical standards.

Musing over the celebration of Easter, Sir, Sam Ovu Eleonu was philosophical as he reflected on the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, in a rather historic remark; he asked, what does Easter mean in our lives?

In apparent response to the question he raised, he said Jesus Christ the only sinless creature, became sinful for the sake of mankind, and “we have a duty to work in the life of Christ, take a step of faith towards spirituality and exemplify the life of Christ by showing love to the needy.”

According to Sir Eleonu, the essence of Easter is to reflect love and concern for humanity as a mark of honour for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Commenting on the method of Easter day celebrations, Pastor Israel Okachi, the General Overseer of Sure Foundation Bible Church Egbelu Ozodo, Port Harcourt said Christians should celebrate Easter Sunday in their churches to praise Jesus, pray for the church, and thank God for his mighty miracle of Resurrection Power. Just as the disciples were praying when Peter was arrested by King Herod to be killed after Easter but the angel came from Heaven to release Peter from the prison. “Let  not Christians abuse the correct way of this celebration of Easter Sunday being Resurrection Morning,” he said.

According to Pastor Okachi, resurrection is the greatest power in the word. Outside of the power of prayer, resurrection surpasses the power of atom, hyelrogen and cobalt. Resurrection is a greater power for it breaks the power of grave.

“We triumphantly say, O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? I Corint 15:55. We serve a risen saviour. He is the head of the church militants” he said.

The celebration of Easter among the christain folks, according to the Vicar-incharge of New Covenant (Ang) Church Oroaboli Parish, Port Harcourt, Rev. Cannon Chimela Samuel, is still high. As a matter of  fact, he said.

Christians still celebrate the death of their leader (Jesus Christ) every year.

The Man-of-God, who went down memory lane, explained that Easter is celebrated by christians all over the world because “it is the basis of their faith”, and  Christianity is the only religion that still has its founder alive.”

The General  Overseer of Highway Holiness Christian Church, Pastor Kunle Olagoke, who defined Easter in a different way, said its original name is Passover feast. Pastor Olagoke, maintained that Easter and Christ’s Death Memorial are never the same. He pointed out that the early Christians never celebrated Easter but passover.

According to him, the feast of Passover, teaches humility, saying that Jesus Christ demonstrated such when he washed the deciples’ feet. (John 13: 1 – 5). He also advised that Christains should do away with Christainised pagan worship. Such christainised pagen practice, he pointed out include, kissing the cross during Easter, making sign of the cross etc.

Another Pastor, Tenebo Joseph of Temple of  Praise (TOP), International Church Port Harcourt, argued that Easter remains the time christains across the globe celebrate the resurrection of their Lord and personal saviour, Jesus Christ. Pastor Joseph, said the celebration of Easter can never be over emphasised because no one on earth has been able to do those things Jesus did when he was on earth.

The cleric, who also is the General Overseer of the church, said that the celebration of Easter can never go down, as far as churches keep sprouting out of every corner. He said Easter, calls for a sober reflection and wants christains to see it as more than a celebration period but a time to draw nearer to God.

 

Tanel Beemene