Footprints daily reflection: Easter Sunday, 12 April
“We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song” - St Augustine
Author: Rev Dr Liz Highes
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed...’
Easter Sunday is without a doubt my favourite day in the Christian calendar. I love to join in the traditional call to worship on Easter morning:
Christ is risen; he is risen indeed! Alleluia.
One of my ‘stand out’ experiences on our visit to Sierra Leone this year was to join in worship with the congregation in the Assemblies of God Church in Kono on the Sunday morning. It wasn’t Easter of course but that didn’t stop the congregation praising the Lord, singing and dancing and shouting alleluia at every opportunity.
In Kono that day there were no less than three offerings – the first was the tithe offering given by those who were in business and doing well. Secondly, the compassion offering on behalf of those who were still suffering from the Ebola crisis and thirdly a general offering for everyone to join in giving – and that became a celebration – as the whole congregation came up to the front dancing and praising the Lord.
The Pastor in welcoming us thanked the churches in Ireland for their support of Christian Aid Sierra Leone and its partners. He spoke of the difference one of those partners NMJD Network Movement for Justice and Development had made in the Kono area.
On the previous day we had visited Lei Chiefdom and listened to the stories from the farmers themselves – we heard how Cattle Rearers and Crop Growers had learned to live in harmony with each other where previously there had been conflict and mistrust and at times outright violence. Thanks to NMJD’s mediation Cattle Rearers now dig trenches around their land to stop their cattle wandering on to Crop Growers’ land and destroying their crops - and in their turn Crop Growers allow Cattle Herders to come through their land to access water during certain necessary months of the year. For those living on the edge of poverty, this was, in fact, an Easter message – of new life, new hope, new confidence and a new peace.
Alleluias could be heard all over the church that Sunday.
We thought that when they crucified you,
death had defeated life,
and that was it.
But this is it:
Love is stronger than death,
and one word says it all:
Jesus is risen!
Rev Dr Liz Hughes is the Chair of Christian Aid Ireland. She is a retired minister of Whitehouse Presbyterian Church. Rev Hughes and her husband served as missionaries in churches in Jamaica from 1987-96, fuelling her special interest in Global Mission, and the learnings from the developing church context.