#National News

EASTER MESSAGE 2021 from The Rt. Rev. James Allen Yaw Odico, Biahop of the Anglican Diocese of Gambia

Apr 6, 2021, 12:32 PM

My dear viewers, listeners, and readers, I bring you Easter greetings from the Anglican Diocese of Gambia.

Friends, we cannot wait to commemorate the Feast of the Resurrection, the most significant event of Christians around the globe. Last year, most of us celebrated Easter in low key due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Some countries would undergo the same, this year, due to the second wave of the ferocious disease. COVID 19 has brought massive suffering and death around the globe. Nevertheless, deep in the heart of every true Christian will ignite the joy of the Pascal mystery.

He has risen! He is not here. (Mark 16:6 NIV) This was the message to a group of women at Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter morning. These women went to anoint the body of Jesus on the third day after his burial but found an empty tomb.  In the midst of their shock and anxiety, a man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side in the tomb, addressed them, "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him”. (Mark 16:5-6 NIV).

Beloved people of God, knowing the unbelief of the human race, Jesus, the Son of God, was determined to show proof of His resurrection. St. Luke remarked, “Jesus presented himself to several people and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” (Act 1:3 NIV)

The Gospel of Mark reveals that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. However, when she breaks the news of the resurrection to others who were mourning Jesus’ death, they did not believe. The Gospel added that afterward, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of the disciples while they were walking in the country; when they too break the news, it was regarded as fake news. Therefore, while the Eleven were together eating, Jesus appeared and rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe the breaking news. He commanded them,

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mar 16:9-18)

It is strange that in this age, even with all the proofs, people still question the authenticity of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Centuries before Christ’s birth, His resurrection had been foretold; the Psalmist remarked, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” (Psalm 16:9-10 NIV)

In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Apostle Paul argues that if Christ has not been raised, our preaching and our faith are useless. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (1Corinthians 15:14-18 NIV)

Friends, Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia! Apostle Peter, confirmed that Prophet David who knew God’s solemn promise, “spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. Peter asserted, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. (Act 2:29-32)

Beloved people of God, the resurrection of Christ is the bedrock of the Christian faith and a source of hope to the world. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1Corinthians 15:22-23 NIV)

Beloved Gambians and all God’s people, the disobedience of Adam brought separation between God and humankind. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood… he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26 NIV)

Therefore, if you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9 NIV)

In gratitude to God for the redemptive manifestation, Apostle Peter proclaimed, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Peter 1:3 NIV).

Friends, God is Love; He demonstrates His love to humanity by sending his one and only Son into the world as an atoning sacrifice for our sins that we might live through Him. Therefore, we too must reciprocate such love by loving one another. For whoever lives in love abides with God, and God’s love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment. (1John 4:11-17).

In demonstration of our love to God and for one another, we have a responsibility to "Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation. We have a responsibility to promote the love of God not only with our lips but also in our actions. Love should dictate our interests in our homes, in our communities, in our places of work, and in our interaction with one another. In love, we should protect the rights of others particularly the vulnerable members of our communities, and join the battle in the fight against poverty and disease.

Friends, we may have erred in the past, we may have hurt each other, but at this moment, let us allow love to heal our wounds and forge ahead in peace. As we go into elections, we implore all political parties to relate to each other, in love, and seeing each other as development partners with a common goal of serving the interest the people.

Though political parties can engage in healthy criticism, in love for the common good, each political party must be determined to demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ in serving the nation, or voluntarily quit the game.

We call on all to respect the rights of each citizen to decide which political party to vote for without any ill will. Where there is love, peace obviously reigns. We also call on all eligible voters to ensure that they register and vote peacefully and responsibly.

Fellow Gambians and all God’s people, as we celebrate Easter, let us continue to protect others and ourselves from the COVID 19 infection by keeping the health guidelines. The Government has procured safe and effective vaccines to which we can attest. We, therefore, encourage all of you to take advantage and receive the vaccine while the opportunity lasts. However, receiving the vaccine should not make room for complacency; we must continue to keep that social distance and other hygiene standards.

My dear viewers, listeners, and readers, let us triumphantly proclaim this message ALLELUIA CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED ALLELUIA. We need Jesus Christ in our lives to be able to overcome our sinful nature. This is not a matter of religion or sect. We need God in our lives. We need to share the good news to as many people as we have the opportunity.

On behalf of all Anglican Christians in The Gambia, Senegal and the Islands of Cape Verde, I wish the Head of state, the Government and people of our beloved nation, The Gambia; our ecumenical partners in mission, our brothers and sisters in the Muslim fraternity, people of other faiths or none, and all well-wishers, a very Happy Easter.

Your friend and Bishop

+ James The Gambia