Christians in Ghana are joining their fellows around the world to mark Good Friday, but without the usual congregation, following the lockdown measures implemented by governments worldwide to limit the spread of COVID-19.
However, the Most Reverend Dr Paul Kwabena Boafo, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, says the essence of the 2020 Easter festivities remains the same and richer, in spite of the contagious novel coronavirus, which is changing the nature of church liturgies.
He explained that Easter and all Christian celebrations were best observed spiritually in the heart, “hence the season does not lose its power without the usual outdoor activities”.
He stressed that the lockdown mode, therefore, was a better way for Christians to “come individually before the throne of grace to worship”.
In a message to mark the Easter festivity, Rev Boafo, who is also the Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), reiterated that Easter was all about Jesus Christ “who is risen from the dead”.
“Easter is a real celebration of the Risen Lord and what makes this season worth celebrating is the fact that Jesus who was declared dead after the crucifixion on Good Friday was raised on the third day,” he explained.
Good Friday is commemorated to appreciate the atoning crucifixion death of Christ Jesus to reconcile the sinful man with God.
“Easter is no doubt the high day in the cycle of Christian worship. But it is not the specific day of celebration that brings Christians together but Jesus Christ who gathers us unto Himself,” he said.
Rev Boafo, however, noted that the Easter activities had mostly been outdoor programmes, including processions, Stations of the Cross, picnics, concerts and conventions.
These celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy Week activities and the resurrection of Christ with the proclamation of Alleluia, Christ is Risen – He is Risen indeed.
However, in the lifetime of many Christians today, this season is going to be different with the clergy using mainly online and traditional media to reach families and smaller groups, in social distancing protocols, with their messages of repentance, forgiveness, salvation, reconciliation and love.
“Since this arrangement is also a novel to the Church, many are expressing concern about the impact of this years’ Easter celebrations with some calling for the postponement of the cardinal celebration,” he noted.
Nevertheless, he explained that, “the hope of Easter in a world engulfed in fear and panic” was the good news of the reality of a risen Lord of hope because Jesus Christ, whose resurrection would be marked on Easter Sunday, was the great hope for the world.
“This hope does not disappoint. The Easter hope is that which penetrates fears and anxieties and the many acts of injustice and violence, ” he stated.
“The resurrection of Christ gives hope and dignity where there is deprivation and exclusion, hunger and hopelessness”.
He said the state of death, solitude, hopelessness and fear, which seemed to be the portion of humanity these days of the Coronavirus pandemic could not be the last word in the season.
“There is a word that transcends them, a word that only God can speak: He is risen. By the power of God’s love, these words dispel all the negatives we are living with today
“The message of Easter brings humanity to experience anew the God of life. Death and its powers are conquered by the risen Christ”.
He, therefore, urged the faith community to strengthen their faith and to remind the world of the risen Christ who was able to cast fears away and grant hope.
“He will rescue his people for his name’s sake. The God of our fathers and mothers is still with us as a people,” he assured.