Maundy Thursday starts the beginning of one of the most significant weekends on the Christian calendar. In fact, Easter holds more meaning to the Christian walk that it should be viewed as dearer than Christmas.
The fifth day of the Holy Week is the day that Christians commemorate the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles; the time when he broke bread with them and talked them through what would happen in the coming hours and days.
Then Good Friday follows. That is the day Christians mark Jesus’s crucifixion and death at Calvary. That leads us to Easter Sunday, one of the most festive times when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
We have heard the story of Easter time and time again, just as we have the Nativity Story of Christ.
Indeed, one of the most popular scriptures quoted in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
In the pre-COVID-19 period, droves of school children across Barbados would go to church each year for Ash Wednesday which starts the Lenten season. Priests would place the sign of the cross on their foreheads and they would sit and hear the sermon.
At home, many may enjoy fish on Good Friday, hot cross buns and the adventures of traditional kite-flying.
But, have all the Easter religious practices become more symbolic and ritualistic as we seemingly go through the motions?
Do parents, guardians, teachers explain to the new generation what the Easter story really means on a personal level? Do they spend time relating the story to everyday life? Is enough energy spent drawing correlations between what happened then and what still happens now?
The Easter story is more relevant now than it ever was. The need to learn about betrayal, redemption, falling and rising, is essential especially at this juncture in our history as the uncertainty and misfortune that the COVID-19 pandemic brings.
What Christians mark this weekend is not merely symbolic. It is not a centuries-old story with no meaning for the present day. The Easter story is one of great faith and hope.
Indeed, Christ himself not fully understanding what his father in Heaven was asking of him demonstrated great faith. From the 40 days and 40 nights of being repeatedly tempted by Satan, to knowing the end was certain death, Christ held to faith in the One that is greater than He.
According to the Bible, he believed in a better outcome even as everything around him was caving in. He was persecuted by the mob which shouted: “Give us Barabbas!” He was found guilty by a reluctant Pontius Pilate. He was betrayed and denied by two of his disciples. Yet through it all he held on to the faith he had in the unseen Father.
Even in the midst of it all, he was not consumed by hatred. He was kind to the soldier whose ears one of his disciples had severed. He pardoned the two men beside him on the Cross at Calvary.
And ultimately, when he was deemed down and out, he defied the odds and rose on the third day.
While it is true that none of us human beings possesses what Jesus has, the Bible says he was in human form at the time of the crucifixion. And if we are indeed made in the likeness and image of God himself, there has to lie something in us that allows us to endure, that allows us to fall and rise again. We human beings possess the innate ability to overcome and rise against all odds.
The Easter weekend provides the perfect example of mixed emotions and feelings. It shows how one can move from despair to hope, from hopelessness to possibilities, from sorrow to joy.
Good Friday and Easter also bring redemption – that thing that allows us to get a second chance at making things right. We will falter. We will err. It is called being human, but knowing that even when that happens you can start all over again is blessed assurance indeed.
These are the lessons that need to be taught over and over again. These are the lessons that would cause us to see the value of humanity over material things. These are the lessons that will get us through a pandemic, the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane, an earthquake, joblessness and economic uncertainty. These are the lessons that are more valuable than trigonometry or Pythagoras’s theorem, the kinds of life lessons with which the next generation should be equipped.
So, as we enjoy this Easter weekend that is made quieter due to COVID-19, let us reflect on how relevant and needed the story of Easter is at this trying time. Let’s continue to exercise that faith and hope – not in our leaders, our doctors, our scientists or all in vaccines. We must place our faith in that all-powerful being in whom Jesus Christ placed his faith thousands of years ago.
The management and staff of Barbados TODAY wish you, our valued readers, a Happy Easter!!!