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The Significance Of Easter

by Camelia Nathaniel

Chrishantha B. Mendis, Former Archdeacon of Colombo and Fr. Benedict

Many of us today are quite unaware of what Easter actually means, as the true meaning of Easter has been lost. Today Easter, just like Christmas, has become rather commercialised, but we must bear in mind that Easter  is not about cute little fluffy chickens, nor does it have anything to do with Easter bunnies. Although Easter eggs are a significant part of Easter and yes an egg does signify ‘new life’ because new life hatches from the egg, and Jesus was resurrected on the third day – giving us new life in Him. However, today with all our busy schedules and all the fanfare associated with Easter, the real meaning has been forgotten. However for at least some Christians, we still understand what Easter really is all about.

According to the Old Testament, the priest would bring bulls, goats or a spotless lamb without any blemishes to be sacrificed as a sin offering for himself and for the people. It was believed that the blood of this animal would purify and make atonement (forgive, make amends) for man’s sins. However when Jesus came, He was a representation of the sacrificial lamb to take away the sins of the world. He was the final sacrifice. We no longer have to sacrifice animals to make atonement for our sins. Jesus has done this once and for all. It is the blood of the son of God himself that cleanses us from all sin. He was crucified on the cross. The sin of the world was upon Him, yet He was without sin and blameless. He bore it all. This is why Jesus is referred to as the ‘Lamb of God’.

What we celebrate during Easter is the most important event in the Catholic and Christian calendar and it was the resurrection of the son of God  on the third day. He appeared to many – eating and drinking with them. He appeared to them for 40 days, then ascended to  Heaven. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, and if He had merely died and not been resurrected, He would have been considered just another teacher. However, His resurrection changed all that and gave final and irrefutable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had conquered death. This is what makes Easter important even in the Catholic and Christian Calendar.

Christianity is different from every religion because all other religions (including Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) states that you must earn the right to be reconciled with God.  It is by what you do in this life (good deeds or bad deeds) that determines your eternal destiny.  Christianity is completely different from this.  The difference between Christianity and every other faith in the world is that all other religions are about man trying to reach upto God.  Christianity is about God reaching down to man. Easter too shows us that God gave his only son to be crucified on the cross, to cleanse us of our sins.

Sharing his views on the significance of Easter Reverend Chrishantha B. Mendis, the Former Archdeacon of Colombo said that all religious events such as Christmas Easter and others have been commercialised because the commercial world wants to find their own income and make a good buck out of that particular season. However, he said that the spiritual side is quite different to the commercial side, when it comes to these religious events. But when asked if we as Christians too are to blame for following the commercial aspect of these religious events rather than focussing more on the spiritual side, he said that today many Christians only take the trouble to go to church or attend holy mass only on the specific days such as Christmas, or Easter. “We neglect our spiritual side and our daily walk with Jesus is something that we ignore. But what we need to understand is that every day should be a Christmas and Easter. On Easter and Christmas the churches are full but on the other days the churches are half empty. This is because we have not properly understood the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the form that we need to understand as Christians and the followers of god,” he added.

As the Reverend pointed out, the churches are seeing less people during even the mass, but is this because the people find less relevance of the church in their day to day lives? Some Christians feel that the Church talks about words in the bible, but these are just dusty words that have no resonance in people’s ears, not realising that just saying those words louder isn’t the answer. All the religious buzzwords that used to work 20 years ago no longer do, and it is nothing more than just lazy religious shorthand, and it keeps regular people at a distance. They need the church to speak in a language that they can understand. There is a message there worth sharing, but it is hard to hear above the churches verbal pyrotechnics.

People do not need to be dazzled with big, churchy words , but they need the church to talk to them plainly about love, and joy, and forgiveness, and death, and peace, and God, and they will be all ears. When asked what the church is doing to draw the Christians in Reverend Mendis said that the church tries very hard to teach the people the significance of religion. “When it comes to Easter, we find that it is a new life in Christ. There are many religions in the world but we must remember that there is only one saviour. This does not mean that we demine other religions, but as Christians as a community would like to respect other religions in every way. If you look at the world there are 246 religions but we only concentrate on the 4 main religions in Sri Lanka. Jesus has shown us that death is not the end but a beginning to eternal life,” he added.

Reverend Mendis said that he would like to tell the people in his Easter message that we need to understand that Jesus Christ came to us in Human form and he taught us and performed miracles and eventually laid his life on the cross for us. “However today we see an empty cross, and I just cannot understand why his tomb was guarded by two guards if it was just a dead body. They too in the Roman Empire would have known that the resurrection story would come true, and it certainly did. So today we see the Lord Jesus on the cross in many churches, but to me I believe it is an empty cross as Christ is no longer on the cross, and it begins a new life altogether. Easter is the most significant event for Christians because it turns the whole drama of Christian life into a new direction. So if there was no resurrection there would not be a Christian church and Christians would not be. That is why Jesus said I am the resurrection and I am the life, in Saint John’s gospel,” he concluded.

Meanwhile Colombo Archdiocese Spokesperson Rev. Fr. Benedict Joseph said that Easter has yet not been commercialised to a great extent. He said that all Easter related activities are still taking place in Church. He said that the whole foundation of Catholicism rests upon the death and glorious resurrection of Jesus.  “Although there are the Easter eggs and the Chocolate bunnies, the Catholics are more inclined toward religious activities and engage in Lenten sacrifices.

During the lent season commencing on Ash Wednesday, Catholics engage in 40 days of sacrifice and fasting. They also engage more in religious   observances and celebrate Easter Sunday as the most significant feast. They also abstain from meats and social practices and spend that 40 days preparing for the death of Christ. Holy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week.

Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfill His role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by His final sacrifice. The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicts his betrayal. The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual re-enactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is specially commemorated on HolyThursday,” he said.Good Friday is the day on which Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Catholics are joined by almost all other Christians in solemn commemoration on this day. It is also a legal holiday around much of the world.Crucifixion was an especially painful method of execution and was perfected by the Romans as such. Good Friday is a day of fasting within the Church. Traditionally, there is no Mass and no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday.

A liturgy may still be performed and communion, if taken, comes from hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday. Baptism, penance, and anointing of the sick may be performed, but only in unusual circumstances. Church bells are silent. Altars are left bare. The solemn, muted atmosphere is preserved until the Easter Vigil.As we know from the Gospels, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion, which would be Sunday. His resurrection marks the triumph of good over evil, sin and death. It is the singular event which proves that those who trust in God and accept Christ will be raised from the dead.

 

EASTER MESSAGE

We as a Christian community celebrate Easter .   If not for Easter and the resurrection there would not have been a Christian Church.  We are Christians today and bond with each other basically because of the resurrection story.  There would never have been a Christian Church if Jesus’s death  never took a different turn .

The Christian Church takes a new life with the resurrection of Jesus. This signifies that for every Christian there is hope after death.  Our Christian journey does not end with our death but we begin a new journey ,a journey enjoying eternal life with Jesus.

St. John’s  Gospel makes this very clear in St. John  11: 25   “ I am the resurrection and the life. “  Today as we celebrate Easter we gaze at an empty cross .  This is the significance of Easter.  The  empty cross symbolises the victory over death.  As Christians we respect all religions throughout the world. Though there may be many religions it is one saviour, who gave his life for us.

The empty tomb proves Christianity ; but an empty Church denies it.

Though the world commercialises Christmas and Easter to find extra income for them it is to us as Christians we need the inward conviction to become his followers and disciples.”

Rev. Chrisantha Mendis

Vicar – St. Michael & All Angels Church, Polwatte.

 

 

EASTER – How I See It

The Creator taking humanity stepped on planet earth with His Redemption plan. Until then Easter was hidden in a certain Jewish practice. A flawless innocent little lamb was sacrificed for the sin of an individual, a family or the nation. The practice went on endlessly, believing that this portrayed something real which was still future. Human sacrifice was never practiced by those who believed in the God of the Bible. The only thing nearest to this was portrayed when God asked Abraham to take his son, his only son whom he loved and offer him on a mountain as a sacrifice to God Himself. The love and respect Abraham had for God was such that he could not withhold his only son, but went ahead to do it. God who tested the depth of his obedience, restrained him just before the point of his knife pierced the boy’s heart. By so doing, God displayed to mankind what He was going to do in the future. Easter is the price God paid for man’s sin. “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” – Romans 6:23.

Today this sublime truth is hijacked by the commercial world. They have portrayed it in Easter eggs, Easter bunnies and Hot cross buns and so on. Sadly the church has allowed the truth to be replaced by a lie. Not tradition but the Word of God is the only place where the truth can be found. Jesus said “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free” – John 8:32. Hence the truth of Easter is forgiveness of sins to those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Rev. Vernon H Perera – Assemblies of God

 

WALK IN RESURRECTION POWER !

‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.’  (Philippians  Ch.1:  vs.21).

The blessed hope of meeting my Lord.   Death surely is not an enemy but a friend.  A Christian should never fear death but learn to love Him to such an extent, until all fear is gone and live in the hope of rising with Him. Jesus my Lord! Jesus my Saviour! Jesus my all in all!

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life:  he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live:  and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.  Believest thou this?’ (John Ch. 11:  vs. 25 – 26).

Resurrection leads to eternal life.  Did Jesus Christ need to rise from the dead to live forever?  ‘In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.’ (John Ch. 1: vs.4).  He died in our place, ‘for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Romans Ch. 6: vs.23).  The Son of God, became the Son of man, He identified Himself with us.  ‘He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ (2 Corinthians Ch. 5:  vs.21).  He identified with you personally, and became the lamb of God who took away your sin.  Now you can identify yourself with Him, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and enjoy His resurrection, power and glory.  The resurrected Christ in you sets you free from all the works of the devil, sin, sickness and death.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John Ch.3: vs. 8). ‘Therefore…. whom the Sons sets free is free indeed.’ (John  Ch. 8: vs.36).

 

 

What does Resurrection mean to me?

Death is banished; life eternal invisible, is in me.  Now I am a new creation, because ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ (Galatians Ch.2 vs.20).  ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Romans  Ch. 6: vs.11).

If you are resurrected, ‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.’ (Colossians  Ch.3: vs.1).  Now you are under a new law. ‘For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ (Romans  Ch.8: vs.2). Now walk in His victory and be a partaker in His glory. ‘It is no longer I that liveth, but Christ that liveth in me, so I live because He lives in me.’(Galatians  Ch.2: vs. 20).

Why does He give us Resurrection power now?  It is that we may live in the victory of the cross.  ‘For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.’ (1 Corinthians  Ch.1: vs.18).  Let us realise the awesome fact that by His death on the cross, Jesus defeated the devil – therefore Satan is under our feet.  It is no more I, but Christ that lives in me.  Therefore sin has no dominion over me. Satan and his emissaries have no controlling power over me; for I am His and He is mine, and His banner over me is love.  We have an unique identity; demon forces cannot overwhelm us and death has no power over us. ‘O death, where is thy sting ?  O grave, where is thy victory?’  (1 Corinthians Ch. 15: vs. 55).  I am indestructible, for I am the temple of the Risen Lord; therefore no weapon that is formed against me shall prosper.  Jesus said ‘I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’  (Matthew  Ch.16: vs.18).  As a child of God I have resurrection life and I belong to a new indestructible society, the Church.

 

 

What Resurrection means to me

Born in sin and shame – now born again with the life of God.  Born again to share in His power and glory.  Jesus said ‘Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.’ (Luke  Ch.10: vs.19).  This new creation is in the world, but is not of this world.  We sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  We not only learn the Logos, but we learn to be filled with and manifest the Rhema of the Word.  Jesus said ‘My Word (Logos) is Spirit and Life.’

(Rhema).  Let us not be grumblers, complainers and weaklings.  Remember, we live because He lives in us.  We are His priceless possession.  He sacrificed all, He gave His very life for us.  We were not bought with silver and gold, but the most valuable treasured possession of heaven was paid to redeem us from the slave market of sin.

Pastor Colton Wickremaratne

 

 

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