Chairman’s EASTER MESSAGE
17th April 2022
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here – He is risen” (Luke 24:5-6)
On Easter day, we celebrate the victory of resurrection, the story of hope and transformation. It was on Easter day that Christ conquered hate, torture, pain, misery and death. Christ's glorious Resurrection and its illuminating light gives us hope that no matter how long darkness remains, the light will eventually shine.
The resurrection is a profound event that changes a person needing consolation into a joyous one. The resurrection brought a great change to Mary, from sadness to joy. Faith came to Mary from what she heard when the risen Lord called her by name: ‘’Mary.’’ She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic ‘’Rabboni’’ meaning teacher.’’ (John 20:16). What we need in order to have joy in our innermost self, is not so much to see Jesus, but to hear Him. Mary Magdalene's tears ceased to flow the moment she heard Jesus calling her name, 'Mary!' This was all that she needed to hear in order to change from sorrowing to rejoicing.
Jesus Himself had said: 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.'(John 10:27) If you truly belong to Jesus, you will hear His still small voice speaking to your heart, calling you, comforting you at times of sadness, and correcting you when you take the wrong direction in life. Sometimes He may speak to you through His Word as you read it devotionally or as you hear it preached faithfully, or as you partake of the Lord's Supper. God may also speak through the words of a hymn that you hear or sing.
Let’s celebrate the resurrection of our Lord by singing, reading and meditating on the word of God. When the Lord speaks to you, please don't keep it to yourself but share it with others. For Mary Magdalen, when she heard from the risen Lord, she hurried to tell the disciples about him. She told them what she had heard from him, in order that they too might stop weeping, but share her joy of hope and faith in the risen Lord.
The resurrection of Christ changes lives and gives a new identity. St Paul says: So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.’’ (Romans, 6:9-11) With this, we live our lives differently from unbelievers and what we do in this life is done out of thankfulness to the Lord. When believers live their lives for the Lord, they have to leave behind all burial clothes to show that they have moved from death to new life. Jesus deliberately left behind the burial clothes that He had been wrapped in, inside the tomb. Simon Peter went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that have been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen (John 20:6-7)
It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will help us to leave behind any type of burial clothes that ties us down, things that causes difficulties and heartache in our Christian walk, and things that make us walk around in despair with an anxious and complaining heart like Mary Magdalene. She was distraught and complaining about the missing corpse of Jesus not knowing that He is alive. Yes, there could be still troubles and challenges in this life, but the resurrection story gives us a new hope and faith in Christ Jesus. St Paul says: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’’ ( Romans 8:18) The bodily resurrection of Christ is victory over suffering and death. ‘’For as in Adam, all die, so in Christ all will be made alive’’ (1 Corinthians 15:22) Moreover, the Resurrection of Christ is victory over sin because Christ suffered, died on the Cross and rose from the dead in order to "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).
As we celebrate Easter this year, we pray for peace in the world and especially that the war between Russia and Ukraine will come to an end. We pray for all those in displacement and refugee camps, those having drought and food crisis and those with various challenges in life. We pray that the power of the risen Lord will transform their sorrow into joy; their sickness and illness to health, and their lives that are dead in sin to new life in Christ Jesus.
Let us also pray that the light of the risen Christ will rise upon His Church to cleanse and revive her. Then nations and communities will come to know the great salvation and transforming power of the God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead, the firstborn of the new creation!
May the light of the risen Christ fill your hearts, your families and your church communities with abundant spiritual strength, joy and blessings from above.
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!
The Most Revd Dr Justin Badi Arama
Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
Chairman, Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA)