EASTER MESSAGE 2022 FROM MOST REVEREND BANNIE EBENEZER F. MANGA, PRESIDENT BISHOP OF GAMBIA, METHODIST CHURCH IN GAMBIA

The Gospel of John chapter 20 verse 1 to 18 records

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone at the entrance had been removed. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and said, “They took the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple made their way to the tomb. Both ran, but the other disciple ran away from Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and looked into the strips of linen lying there, but did not go inside. Then Simon Peter came after him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen lying there and the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still in place, separate from the laundry. Eventually the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in. He saw and believed. (They still didn’t understand from the Scriptures that Jesus had to be raised from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were.

Now Mary stood weeping in front of the tomb. As she wept, she bent to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They took my Lord,” she said, “and I don’t know where they took him.” She turned and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realize it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who do you look for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Lord, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will fetch him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned to him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (meaning “teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Instead, go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Amen.

Being reassured by a loved one that they are okay is and can be very comforting. The assurances can be based on the fact that you are being encouraged by someone who loves you and would therefore tell you the truth on the matter at hand.

In the context of John chapter 20, 1-18 we find that Mary was devastated that she could not find the body of her Lord, Master and King. She was devastated that Jesus’ body could be stolen. She was devastated that the wicked people could still continue the conspiracy and schemes against Jesus and His ministry. She was devastated that her hope was seemingly destroyed and dashed.

In the midst of this reality, Jesus appeared to her and called her by name. Her Lord and Master remembered her. Jesus called her and immediately reset her thought pattern. She was given life again. Her devastation turned into a day of joy and I’m sure she shone with hope and life.

In the resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate in these Easter events, Jesus comes to restore hope, life, and joy. Jesus comes to realign our thoughts so they can be aligned with the will and purposes of God. Jesus comes to give us a fresh start in life and to restore our relationship with God.

Friends, it is true that there are many things that need to be reset in our lives, our families, our communities and our nations. We’ve come to a point where relationships don’t seem optimal anymore. We have come to a point where we are divided by political disagreements and aspirations. We are at a point where the best of what we can be in The Gambia has yet to be realized. We could point the finger at others for responsibility and spark our predicament. We might see others as a catalyst for our situation and need.

Still, we can reset the button to take responsibility for our own actions and destiny. We can realign our lives to conform to God’s purposes for mankind. Through his empowerment we can be a transformed people in God. We can love again. We can forgive again, we can be truly human again. We can be the definitions of humanity and participate with God in making this world a better place for everyone. We can be God’s instruments in creation. We can do God’s will.

How shall we do it? We can choose to be conscious in our actions. First we must consider our relationship with Jesus the Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God made him, who knows no sin, to be sin for our sake, that in Him – Jesus Christ – we might become the righteousness of God. It is implied, therefore, that our standing in God must be established in Jesus Christ, who says he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Second, we need to be transformed through the renewal of our minds. Romans 12:2 encourages us with these words: “Do not conform yourselves to the times, but are transformed by the renewal of your minds, that you may know what is good, agreeable, and perfect, which is what God wills. This text speaks to us as a nation, community and individuals at a time when selfishness, greed and a very sad reality called abuse seem to abound. We are in a time when domestic violence – be it physical, psychological or contextual – abounds. Where is the charity like ourselves? Where is the respect for ourselves and our elders? Where is the respect for women? Our society needs a reset. We must be a community of love, respect and integrity. We must respect the dignity of all, regardless of gender and social status. We must set an example for present and future generations that we can be a dignified community where diversity is valued and respected. We can define our religiosity in our actions. For we do not want to be a people who appear to have some form of religiosity, but our actions deny the same. WE NEED A RESET.

In resetting the button on our lives, our community and our nation, it is time that we choose to work in the ethics that we all know is best in everyone’s interest. We must strive for the greater good of others and serve to the best of our ability. When we all choose to work together, to serve one another, and to seek the best interest of the whole, our nation, our communities, our families, and our very lives will flourish to be the very best we can be under God.

So this Easter season we are encouraged to reset the button. We are reminded that we can do it in Jesus the Christ. We can have a transformed life in Jesus, the risen Christ.

On behalf of the Methodist family in The Gambia, especially this Easter season, I pray for a changed life for all. We pray that the love of God touches you and that you are as great a blessing as you are blessed in Jesus name.

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