Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter 2017: Celebrating God in a difficult economy

By Sam Eyoboka Easter is one of the holiest religious Christian
festivals celebrated by Christians worldwide mark
reverence the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus
Christ who died for the sins of the world and rose
up for the justification of man before God. Easter is the most important Christian festival as it
celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the
dead, three days after he was executed by
crucifixion. Most Pentecostal churches observe Easter by
holding special programmes such as village
evangelism, outdoor crusades, visiting the
homeless and the orphanage, and enjoying special
meals among the family. The Deeper Christian Life Ministry is today
rounding up its Special Easter retreat with a
theme; ‘Conquering with the Crucified King’, at the
Deeper Life Conference Centre on Lagos-Ibadan
Expressway with General Superintendent, Pastor
William Kumuyi ministering. The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, is
using the Easter period for evangelism which is
known as the annual Easter Let’s-Go-a-Fishing in
different areas of the church’s operation which
also began on Thursday and ends today. L-R: Brother Lateef Olaleye, Chairman, Embrace Season 10 Committee 2017, Brother Samuel Adewole Turoti, Senior Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, Rev. Isaac Adeyemi, Pastor Segun Oluwadoromi and Media Co- ordinator, Brother Gbenga Ayelabola during a press conference on Embrace Season 10 on Good Friday. Orthodox churches, on the other hand, observe
Easter with the Lenten fasting and penance,
carnivals, parades, plays, and overnight parties.
Some orthodox churches also avoid eating meat
during this period – starting from Good Friday to
Easter Sunday. In Nigeria, Easter is celebrated by both Pentecostal
and Ortho-dox churches, and also by non-
Christians. Some celebrate it by fasting during the
pre-ceding Lenten period, and giving to the poor,
and others by holding special church programmes
and outdoor events. But aside these, Easter is largely a period of wild jubilations when people eat
chicken and rice and other local delicacies. The Easter date is set around the time of the March
Equinox. The March equinox coincides with Easter
Sunday and holidays that are related to it. These
holidays do not fall on a fixed date in the
Gregorian calendar, or the Julian calendar, which
is still used by many Orthodox Christian churches. The dates of many Christian holidays depend on
the Easter date. Some of these holidays include:
Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday,
Ascen-sion Day, Pentecost/Whitsunday. According to the Bible, Jesus’ death and
resurrection occurred around the time of the
Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first
full moon following the vernal equinox. This soon
led to Christians celebrating Easter on different
dates. At the end of the second century, some churches celebrated Easter on the day of the
Passover, while others celebrated it on the
following Sunday. In the Gregorian calendar, Easter falls on a
Sunday between March 22 and April 25 from 1753
to 2400. In the Julian calendar, used by some
eastern or Orthodox churches, Easter also falls on
a Sunday from March 22 to April 25, which in the
Gregor-ian calendar are from April 3 to May 10 from 1753 to 2400. In 2007 Easter fell on the same date (April 8) in
both calendars when the Julian date was con-
verted to the Gregorian date. This happens in
some years, such as 2004, 2010 and 2011. Proposed Easter Date Reforms There have been a number of suggested reforms
for the Easter date. For example, in 1997 the World
Council of Churches proposed a reform of the
Easter calculation to replace an equation-based
method of calculating Easter with direct
astronomical observation. This would have solved the Easter date difference
between churches that observe the Gregorian
calendar and those that observe the Julian
calendar. The reform was proposed to be
implemented in 2001, but it is not yet adopted. Another example of a proposed reform occurred
in the United Kingdom, where the Easter Act 1928
was established to allow the Easter date to be fixed
as the first Sunday after the second Saturd-ay in
April. However, this law was not implemented,
although it remains on the UK Statute Law Database. (*) The resolution’s exact wording is unknown, so
the council’s precise contribution to the process of
determining the date of Easter is disputed.
However, according to some historians,
contemporary sources (e.g. by Epiphanius of
Salamis and Socrates of Constantinople) suggest that the council decided on a Easter date after the
spring equinox. Last year Easter Sunday fell on March 27, this year
it is on April 16 while the date is expected to shift to
April 1, 2018 and April 21, 2019. Arguably, over 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population
last celebrated the all-important Christian festival in
a very austere fashion because of a biting fuel
scarcity that made prices of all commodities includ-
ing transportation to the Eastern parts of country,
stretched beyond the reach of millions of Christians. Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 Northern
states was forced to call on the Federal
Government to intensify its efforts in fixing the
problem of fuel scarcity, which hampered
movement of goods and persons during that
year’s Lentern period leading on to Easter, stressing that the untold hardship Niger-ians were
experiencing as an oil producing nation was un-
acceptable. The association’s Public Relat-ions Officer, Rev.
John Hayab, who spoke on the significance of
Easter celebration, argued that the government
should reflect on the fact that Jesus Christ died to
eliminate the sufferings of mankind and do the
needful to eliminate the hardship being faced by Nigerians. He said, “What we are saying is that government is
meant for the people and as such government
should double its efforts to reduce the pains
inflicted on the average Nigerians by the fuel
scarcity in the country. The way and manner
Nigerians queue, (some even sleep at filing stations) in the face of this hardship is
unacceptable to the leadership Northern CAN.
Northern CAN wants the government to earnestly
do something urgent to avert this ugly situation
before it gets out of hands.” Celebrating God In A Difficult Economy Everywhere one turns the one finds men, women,
boys, girls irrespective of tribe or creed lamenting
the prevailing economic hardship and the
attendant high prices of food items in the country.
Staple foods such as rice, beans, pepper,
tomatoes, onions, vegetable oils, Palm oil are now out of the reach of average Nigerians. A recent market survey con-ducted in some
markets in Lagos reveal that prices of some
foodstuffs are now higher than what they were in
the previous year even during a period of fuel
scarcity that adversely affected the distribution of
goods and services. Random investigations in the last week show that a 50 kilogram bag of rice—a
popular staple—now sells for N16,000 as against its
price of N11,000 last Easter. A bag of beans is now
N39,000 as against N21,500 in 2015. The Director of Social Com-munications at the
Catholic Echdioses of Lagos, Rev. Msgr Gabriel
Osu likened this year’s celebration of Easter to
what he called ‘Celebrating God in a difficult
economy, pointing out that Easter is generally
regarded as the most important feast in Christendom because it commemorates the
supreme sacrifice paid by Christ to redeem
humanity from the shackles of sin and to give
them access to eternal life. Without the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection
of Christ from the dead, Osu argued, the whole of
humanity would have been doomed for the whole
of eternity. “That is why we sing Hosanna in
gratitude on Easter Sunday. “Unlike Christmas which goes with much funfair
and commerc-ial activities, Easter is more solemn in
nature. Having faith-ful dedicated themselves to a
40-day period of fasting, repentance and
abstinence, it is only natural that activities of the
preceding days still carry with it some elements of solemnity and peni-tence. “This is not to say there are no merriments. On the
contrary, Easter is a day of rejoicing. We put
away our ‘sack’ clothes, anoint our faces with oil
and suspend our fasting as a show of gratitude to
the saving works of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the
social communicator stated. According to the Catholic cleric, while it is true that
the economy is still in a dicey state, it is not
expected, however, to dampen the spirituality
associated with Easter. Like the theme of this year’s
Lenten pilgrimage for the Archdiocese of Lagos
stated, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’

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