#National News

Easter Message 2021 By The Most Reverend Hannah Caroline Faal-Heim, Presiding Bishop of The Gambia, The Methodist Church The Gambia

Apr 6, 2021, 12:39 PM

Jesus had been raised from the dead

Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus had told his disciples that “he must be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). This was God’s plan, so that Jesus, the Son of God, would give his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The truth of his prediction was confirmed in his crucifixion, death and resurrection. The words, which he spoke, have been passed on from generation to generation, as every year in Holy Week and Easter we remember his death and celebrate his resurrection. His words, then and now inspire our thoughts, attitudes and decisions.

Words have an effect over lives, and the Bible is very clear that what one says matters. Proverbs 12:19 say: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment”.

Words build people up or tear them down. Berating others with words can bring devastating consequences. Words matter, for better or for worse.

Let us read the Easter story, and let us see what wonderful impact the words of the Easter message have:

As they (Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Salome) entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:5–7)

The words of the angel, described as looking like a young man in Mark’s Easter narrative, continue to resound throughout all generations and in every corner of the world. His words matter, everywhere and forever, into the present day and all eternity.

The angel is sitting in the tomb, to the right of where Jesus’ body had lain before he rose from the dead. The angel had been waiting, waiting with intent. He had an important message to deliver, and when the women arrived, he could not wait to tell them the good news, the best news, the amazing news that God had raised Jesus from the dead, that Jesus was alive!

The angel could not wait to announce the wonderful news that God has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He could not wait to tell the women, and us and every human being on earth, that God’s limitless power had raised Jesus from the dead and brought his body back to life, to new life, to the resurrection life that will never end.

The angel made this declaration in line with God’s word, he declared that with God all things are possible, even the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, who had been tortured to death on the cross and been dead for almost three days.  In the weeks leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus had fore-told his disciples many times that he would have to die and that he would rise up again from the dead, but at the time they did not want to hear such words, and they could not and would not believe that a resurrection from death is possible (Mark 8:31–33).

The life of Jesus is framed by the appearance of angels who announce and explain the meaning and significance of Jesus. They announce his birth and ensure his survival in the desert (Luke and Matthew) at the beginning, and they announce his resurrection after his death. They even comment on the significance of his ascension to heaven and his eventual return at the end of time to make all things right (Acts 1).

The angel was at the tomb with quiet intention, waiting for the first witnesses of the resurrection. When the three women arrived, he gave them a calm, matter-of-fact report of what had happened during the night, and he interpreted and explained to them the meaning and significance of what they were witnessing: the empty tomb was God’s sign that Jesus had risen from the dead. It was not that grave robbers or body snatchers had taken his body away. No, God had raised him from the dead, and Jesus had left the grave to go about his resurrection business. The angel’s words matter, then and now, for they explain the truth, they announce that the empty tomb was not a disaster, but the greatest miracle in world history and the most certain reason for hope and joy in the world. It was God’s confirmation that he had accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, and that our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled with God.

The women had to listen and understand. We have to listen and understand. The angel’s words matter, then and now. The angel told them to “go and tell”! The angel is telling us today to “go and tell”! The women then were the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and to the love of God. We, you and I today, are the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. We are the ambassadors of the love of God for all today.

Jesus Christ is alive today, and he is willing and able to address the deepest need of everyone who hears and believes the Easter message.  If we do believe in Jesus, then we will welcome him into our lives. When he comes into our lives, we will share the resurrection story with great joy and go and tell everyone how Jesus has changed us and made us better people.

If Jesus is in us, we will behave in better ways towards one another and speak better words to others. For example, we will not slander and libel others.

Rather, in these challenging times of a global pandemic, we speak words of hope because we know that, if God our heavenly Father has raised Jesus from the dead, he will not leave us without help here and now. We will speak words of comfort and encouragements to those who have lost loved ones and encourage them to turn their pain into compassion for others. We will use our words to inspire strength and confidence and energize all to contribute to the common good.  We will use words to bring dignity and love to all. We will use words to bring wisdom to those who feel lost and overwhelmed by their circumstance.

Not only that, but we will use words to thank God for his amazing grace and love for the entire world. We will use words to pray to Almighty God that he will give courage to those who are fearful, to comfort those who mourn, to guide the leaders of the world, to guide the governments of the nations, including the nation of The Gambia in wisdom, to inspire scientific discovery in scientists and medical care givers.

And in turn, we will be ready ourselves, to become the answers to our prayers, to be gracious ourselves, to comfort others who need our care.

Let us walk together into the new life of the risen Christ with hope, courage and confidence and let us receive with gratitude God’s blessings for another Easter, that we may gain strength, protection, good health and happiness. May this Easter bring everyone peace, joy, and prosperity.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

 

May God grant you all a blessed Easter 2021.  Shalom, Shalom.

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