EASTER 2018 MESSAGE BY THE MOST REVEREND HANNAH CAROLINE FAAL-HEIM, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE GAMBIA, THE METHODIST CHURCH THE GAMBIA

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters let us give God thanks, as we once again celebrate Easter. We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save all in the world from the power of sin and death. We are told in the Gospel of John, chapter 3 verse 16 “that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Therefore, following the death on the cross and burial of Jesus Christ, we celebrate to the resounding words “He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28 verses 1-7, we read this wonderful and amazing story:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him, the guards [in front of the tomb] shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

The angel gave three instructions to these witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First, the angel said, “Do not be afraid!” Second, the angel said, “Come, see the place where he lay!” Third, the angel said, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples!”

What a change of circumstances and what wonderful news for the first followers of Jesus. They had seen him crucified, cruelly tortured to death, just three days ago, and now God had raised him from the dead!

It is important that we understand what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us today. What does the resurrection of Jesus mean for us today, this Easter season in the year 2018? What are we afraid of today?

There are some who are despairing, through sickness and poor care, through persecution and violence, through hatred and malice, through greed and lust, through love of status and through love of pleasing people for selfish gains, through offense and pride, and fear of the unknown.

In every society in every age, no matter which part of the world, there are always people who suffer anguish and pain, sickness and disease, poverty, loneliness, or other sad circumstances. In fact, every person on this earth will at one time or another in their life go through some kind of suffering and sadness. – If you are in this situation right now, hear the words of the angel for yourself: “Do not be afraid!” Brothers and sisters, Jesus has saved us by dying on the cross for every person in the whole world, and through being raised from the dead by God, Jesus continues to save us. Jesus, who healed the sick throughout the land, can heal us today and deliver us from whatever pain we are going through.

The angel said, “Do not be afraid!” – So, let us respond with courage, and take courage from the fact that Jesus, the savior of the world, is alive! The death and resurrection of Jesus means for us today that God loves us, all of us.

But brothers and sisters, can we allow our world and the country we live in to be destroyed and driven into desolation through want and greed? – No, let us focus on the importance of partnering and working together as it can help build communities and bring peace and harmony. It is important to continue to build communities and create harmony, through working together.

Therefore, young people “do not be afraid”! Your world can become a better place through hard and committed work. Exercise wisdom. Exercise patience. Be courageous. Be determined. Be joyful, here and now. Give your very best in everything you do, and be content, here and now. You can have meaningful, fulfilling and rewarding work here and now, whether you earn much money or not. You are the one who can make your work special, meaningful and rewarding, because of who you are and because of how you do your work.

Do not ask what life can do for you; explore prayerfully what you can do for yourself and for those around you. Explore with love and confidence how you can give to others and to the nation. 

During the past year of change, we have learned to listen to one another. We have seen how important it is to respect each other. We have discovered how we can bring people from all cultures and backgrounds to work together for the common good. Everybody, from every social status and from all age groups, can make a difference.

We all have a responsibility to help, to support one another, and to play our part to make the nation and the world we live in a better place, here and now. To love God is not just about praising him with our lips. If we do not act on our love for God, then our lives tell a different story. To love God is to have a relationship with him that makes us experience his love, purpose and vision not just for ourselves, but also for others.

Second, the angel said, “Come, see the place where he lay!” – So, let us consider yet again the strong evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let us believe, and let us live our lives with the firm conviction that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in order to save all human beings from sin and death!  Let us live with hope, let us live with perseverance, no matter what circumstances in life we may have to face. And let us live with great joy and happiness, because life eternal is ours, here and now.

Third, the angel said,“Then go quickly and tell his disciples!” – So, let us share the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with all around us.

Let us encourage one another to live holy and good lives in the service of all human beings. Let us live our lives not only with hopes and expectations for ourselves, but with a deep love and concern for all people around us.

Let us not only share good news, let us be good news, good news through our generous and loving behavior towards our family and neighbours, towards our colleagues at work, towards everybody. Let all who live and work here in the nation appreciate that all in this diverse nation can strengthen the common bond by rising above politics, religion, culture, race and economic situations. Together we can go forward in a peaceful and stable way, which will enable development and investments to take place for the good of all.

Let us this Easter, believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for us and rose again from the dead to be our saviour and guide, to love us and to care for us. Let us trust in Jesus. Let us trust in God. Let us follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into a truly rewarding life, here and now. May Almighty God bless our families and us richly.  Happy Easter everyone!

Source: Picture: MOST REVEREND HANNAH CAROLINE FAAL-HEIM