Religious leaders in the country have admonished Ghanaians, particularly Christians, to eschew all forms of social vices.
The leaders said at a time when selfishness, dishonesty, indecency, bribery and corruption were seen as normal by the world, it was important for Christians to show the world the principles and virtues of their faith, as that was a very strong way of propagating the Gospel and bringing hope.
“We cannot wish to go and die again in order to save humanity; humanity has already been saved through the once-and-for-all death of Jesus Christ. But we can do many things for the betterment of our society,” the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, the Most Rev. Philip Naameh, one of the leaders who spoke to the Daily Graphic, said.
In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, the Christian leaders said the pandemic had brought to the fore the need for people to be one another’s keeper, as in the devastating point of the pandemic, it was obvious that all society needed was its faith and one another”.
They also said the period should be used to celebrate God’s faithfulness and abundant mercies for the country, in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has devastated the world.
The leaders are the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC), the Most Rev. Philip Naameh, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, the Most Rev. Dr Paul Kwabena Boafo; the Apostle General of the Royal House Chapel, Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah, and the Presiding Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, Western-West Africa Episcopal District, the Rt Rev. Dr Hilliard K. Dela Dogbe.
The rest are the President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council and General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church, Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong-Manso, and the General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Ghana, Rev. Francis Sey.
The Most Rev. Naameh
The Most Rev. Naameh said Christians and Ghanaians in general should exercise caution in the celebration of Easter, since the COVID-19 was not completely gone but still lurking around in different variants.
“Although vaccination has started, there are many who still do not trust in it. So the prayer dimension should be observed, so that we, together, can call on God to either reduce or totally eliminate this scourge which is affecting everybody,” he said.
The President of the GCBC said those who were religious should perform their religious obligations, while thanking God for those who were still alive and asking for His mercy for those who fell victim to COVID-19, adding that it would be in the interest of everybody if Ghanaians continued to follow the safety protocols on the pandemic.
On the Easter celebration itself, he said God, in His wisdom, allowed His son to die for mankind, even as they were still sinners, adding that the vicarious suffering leading to Christ’s death should be imitated by all.
The Most Rev. Boafo
The Most Rev. Boafo, who is also the Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana, said the world seemed to be in moments of fear, terror, sadness and confusion; however, the risen Christ had assured His followers that they would rise to a new beginning.
He emphasised the need for people to forgive one another, put an end to bitterness and seek to live at peace with one another.
“The message of Easter must encourage us to put an end to all bitterness, and this must prepare us and help us turn our efforts in healing the political, family, ethnic and religious wounds in society,” he said.
The Most Rev. Boafo said Easter presented a period of great joy for Christians, saying: “We know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world. This is the hope that never disappoints.”
Rt Rev. Dr Dogbe
Rt Rev. Dr Dogbe noted that Ghanaians should use the Easter festivities to make the needed sacrifices to make the world a better place.
“Let us reach out in love to the marginalised, the weak and the dying. Let us make our resources available and work together to make this nation great and strong and our world better.
“I also urge that we continue to pray fervently for the Presidency and the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary and all others for wisdom to discern God’s will, courage to take bold decisions and implement same and compassion to inspire a collective buy-in of all,” he said.
Easter, Rt Rev. Dr Dogbe said, was an embodiment of God’s unfailing and unconditional love for humanity and His desire to reconcile them to Himself and thus enable the best in them to pour forth.
He indicated that Easter further reminded “us that sacrifice precedes glory, even as the cross precedes the crown. Each of us is called to make personal sacrifices and let go of personal comforts in order that we attain a better tomorrow”.
Rev. Prof. Frimpong-Manso
Rev. Prof. Frimpong-Manso recalled that last year the world could not celebrate Easter because of COVID-19, but “we are grateful to God that in the midst of the scary pandemic, He has kept us alive to see this season”.
“As we celebrate Easter, please do not let down your guard — observe all COVID-19 protocols,” he advised.
He appealed to churches to avoid joint Easter services and rather asked them to pray for members without laying hands on them, keep their masks on before, during and after each service and stay within the two hours to avoid any problems with state agencies or create a conduit for the spread of the virus.
“Avoid group games, the beaches and picnics. That notwithstanding, do not forget to make the message of Easter — the death and resurrection of Christ — your main focus in this season.
“The greatest mystery of God is Christ (Col. 2:2). Everything about Christ is a mystery — His birth, death and resurrection! Easter resonates divine forgiveness, decorated with passion, dignified with Holiness and deified by the blood,” he said.
In his message, Rev. Korankye-Ankrah said the past year had been like no other, as the "world at large has gone through a most traumatic time as we have battled an unexpected pandemic that has changed the pattern of our lives".
"The church as a whole has borne the brunt of the effect of COVID-19, but praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ; in the midst of this unexpected chaos, we have seen the goodness of God," he said.
Rev. Korankye-Ankrah said as a people, Ghanaians had gone through peaceful and credible elections, and that individual lives had been preserved.
In the Easter season, he said, Christians were reaffirming their faith in God by celebrating Jesus, "who is the author and finisher of our faith".
"Our unity of spirit, however, must translate into unity of mind and purpose as Ghanaians,” he said.
Rev. Sey said Easter was the most important event in human history and also for the Christian because during that time, Jesus died to save humanity, so that anyone who believed in Him would have a right relationship with God, for which reason it was very important that Easter was celebrated.
“By this time last year, we were in a lockdown and so the celebration could not be done in groups. No matter what, the importance and the reason for Easter are as important and relevant as ever, especially in these times of so much uncertainty.
“We don’t even know how the world is going to be, post-COVID-19. We should continue to rely on the work that Jesus did for us,” he said.
He urged Ghanaians to reflect on the season, rededicate their lives and be committed to God. They should also do whatever they could to help Mother Ghana, Mother Earth and humanity in general.
Rev. Sey said Easter was a season that reminded “us of why we are Christians, the price that Jesus paid for us and what we ought to do to make sure that others hear the Gospel”.
He said the life of a Christian should be filled with love and selflessness and not hatred, envy and selfishness, as seen in the world today.