Today is Holy Saturday, the second day of the Christian Easter festival – a three day festivity commemorating the end of Lent, the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believed by Christians to be God Himself assuming a human form to give His life to save sinful mankind, Jesus Christ suffered torture at the stake, endured the shame of the cross, died, was buried and rose to life again on the third day – a Sunday. It is called the Lord’s Day.
This festival is celebrated in Christendom worldwide. In Nigeria, the federal government, in recognition of the unique significance of the festival, has allowed a two day holiday – Friday and Monday. Usually, Christians begin the festivities with a solemn evening worship service in churches on Friday in tune with the crucifixion and death of the founder of their faith. Scripture describes Christ as the “author and finisher” of the Christian faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Another church worship service takes place on Sunday, aptly called Easter Sunday. The tone is much more cheerful because it was on Friday, more than 2000 years ago, that Christ rose from the dead. His resurrection, for Christians, is victory over sin and death, raising the hope of an everlasting life in a new Paradise over which Jesus would rule as King from Heaven.
This year’s Easter has come at a time the nation is completing a transition programme to usher in a new set of leaders that will preside over the affairs of citizens at various levels for the next four years. As a people, this should be an opportunity to appreciate God Almighty for a peaceful transition process that would soon culminate in the handing over to another democratically elected government on May 29, despite utterances of the naysayers..
Accordingly, we urge all, Christians, and indeed Nigerians to pray for the country and the political class so that peace will reign in this last lap of the transition process. This is imperative, particularly, in view of the raging accrimonies that have bedeviled the political space since the February 25 presidential election and the drums of war being beaten here and there by citizens who are still aggrieved.
We are happy that the major contenders in the election who are questioning the results of the exercise have taken their cases to court. That is the way it should be and we commend them for taking that path of honour and democracy, rather than resorting to self help as some are relentlessly advocating for. Politicians occupying public offices and those aspiring to succeed them should realise that without peace and harmony, they would not be able to deliver on their electoral promises of development.
Therefore, Christians, indeed all of humanity, would do well to remember and uphold the true spirit of Easter, which is love. Love for one another and love for country. Which is to say that no sacrifice should be considered too much by citizens for peace of the nation. The Scripture says, “No greater love hath anyone than this, that a man should lay down his life for a friend…” Again, Christians are enjoined to “love thy neighbour as thyself”. A neighbour is not only the one that lives next door or a member of your faith but a fellow human, be he Christian, Muslim or an atheist even. Because Christ “first loved us” we are to show love to fellow humans in both word and deed.
Easter is a perfect occasion to exhibit this love: the rich should remember to feed, clothe and shelter the needy. We should pray for our enemies to prosper, not perish, so that they get a chance to change their evil ways. This is an opportunity for the faithful in the Lord to pray peace and security for Nigeria that has been facing multifarious challenges. “The prayer of a righteous man upholds a nation”, says the Christian holy book.
Our political leaders need our special prayers to be able to govern with the fear of God, justice and fairness.
In particular, we should pray for the out-going President Muhammadu Buhari and his team for their efforts and contributions to national development within their terms of office; and for the President-elect for divine wisdom to have a remarkable and peaceful term of office.
And Easter being a time of renewed hope, we urge Nigerians not to lose hope; never to give up because our tomorrow will surely be better than yesterday.
This is the spirit with which to mark Easter. We wish all Nigerians a happy, peaceful celebration.