EASTER 2019 MESSAGES EASTER 2019 MESSAGE BY THE MOST REVEREND HANNAH CAROLINE FAAL-HEIM, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE GAMBIA, THE METHODIST CHURCH THE GAMBIA

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Easter Is All About Jesus

He was born to die on a cross for the sins of the world. He was innocent of any crime. He was arrested on the basis of false witnesses. He faced a trial, and although he was found “not guilty,” he was mocked, beaten and sentenced to death. He carried his cross to the place of his execution. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, with blood streaming from his face from a crown of thorns.  He was laughed at, mocked and sneered at. More than once they taunted and tempted him, shouting: “Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God,” screaming at him: “You have saved others; now save yourself and come down from the cross!” He was tortured to death. While he was dying, he hung under a sign, which stated his crime: “The King of the Jews!” The pain he endured was so great, he cried out in agony: “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?!?” – These are the kinds of words that people in dire need cry out before their God in their moments of need.

But what kind of man is this? Despite his own pain, with love he prays: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” – This man let love win when many around him hated him and wanted to destroy him. He was generous in his love for humanity. He was ready and willing to the price of his own death in order to bring us life. Yes, he died to conquer death! And he really did die an agonizing death. After he had breathed his last, one of the soldiers who conducted the execution pierced his side with a sword to make sure that he really was dead, and blood and water flowed out.  Friends for burial took down his body from the cross. He was buried in a new tomb and a large, heavy stone rolled in place to seal the tomb.

What happened next? – The tomb, could not hold him, death could not hold him! – Have you not heard?!? – On the third day after his death, some of his friends went to the tomb to prepare his body for its final rest. Yet when they arrived there, the stone had been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and it was empty!

In the quiet of the night, the single most important event in human history had unfolded, and no-one witnessed it—the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God! Jesus’ resurrection confirmed that God had accepted his sacrifice for the sins of the world that Jesus had died innocently for our sins so that through him we may be forgiven!

At Easter, Christians all over the world rejoice and celebrate that God raised Jesus from the dead.  – Why do we celebrate? First, we celebrate the love of God for us. Second, we celebrate that Jesus has conquered death, so that we have hope for eternal life, beyond death! Death has lost its sting. Death itself has died!

Why do we celebrate Easter? – Because the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope in our time of loss, and even when we ourselves are afraid to die. Human life has a beginning and an end. We all know that one day we will have to die, and as we grow older, we all have to endure the loss of someone whom we love. It is difficult enough when an old person dies. It is even more difficult when a young person dies. It is hard enough for children to have to bury their parents. It is so much more painful, when parents have to bury their children. Let us remember in our own time of darkness and loss, that the Almighty God himself lost his child, his only son, Jesus Christ. God’s own son suffered and died. God himself lost his child. God the Father mourned his own son, Jesus.

Why do we celebrate Easter – Because the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has not left his son in the grave, but raised him from the dead, restored and renewed him. And if God our Father raised up his own son from the dead, then we can know with certainty that he will also raise up our own loved ones, our parents, our children, our relatives, our friends, our neighbours.

Why do we celebrate? – Because through Jesus, the Almighty God himself invites us into a personal relationship with him, today! Jesus says to us, today: “I am the way, the truth and the life!” – What does he mean? He is inviting us to put our trust in him, for he is the way, the only way for us to Almighty God our heavenly Father. He is inviting us to believe in him, for he is the truth about forgiveness: “Those who believe in me will live and I will give them eternal life.” He says to us, today: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never die and he who believes in me, even though they die, will live.”

Brothers and Sisters, the spiritual life matters, for we will live in it for a long time, forever in fact!  Brothers and Sisters today each one of us have a choice to make. Do we believe in Jesus, or not? Will we follow Jesus, or not?  Do we want eternal life, or not? – This Easter let us believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and believe and walk in the blessing Jesus gives when we believe. The resurrection brings us into close fellowship with God through prayer. We have a sure ground for hope (1 Peter), and so we share the good news of Jesus, He is risen! He is risen! from the dead Hallelujah!  Jesus makes the difference to our lives. Easter is all about him. And when we help others to find Jesus, their lives will be transformed.  Jesus will help them to move out of the darkness of their sins into a life of faith, hope, and love. “ For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, may not die but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God so loved everyone! Everyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life!

This is the Easter invitation for us today. As God invites us into a new life, so can we invite Jesus into our lives, to become our master, our redeemer, and our brother and friend.  We are to repent from our sins. We are to accept Jesus as our Savior who died for us on the cross. We are to believe that he died on the cross for our sins, and receive his forgiveness. We are to entrust our life to Jesus today and follow him with our whole heart, resolved to obey everything he has commanded us to do—to love God with our whole heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. (Deuteronomy 6:5)!

May Almighty God grant unto each one of us and our family and love ones, a life of comfort, peace, hope and love, and a life that goes beyond the life of this world, eternal life.

Have a blessed Easter! God bless you all.