My prayer and hopes for this Easter season are that the body of Christ would manifest the love of God in unity and oneness by praying for America.
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I have loved the celebration of Easter and the fun-filled activities associated with it from my early childhood. As a youngster, I never grasped a complete understanding of the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday. The excitement seemed to be more in the spring celebration, seeing the people dressed in their Sunday morning brightly-colored clothing. There was the sunrise service and the sumptuous breakfasts that ensued, as well as the Easter egg hunts.
For many people, the spiritual experience and perspective were lost in the celebration activities. One might say “their reverence was lost in the revelry”!
Few would argue that Easter, as with other major holidays, has become very commercialized. Would you believe that Easter is second only to Halloween as the holiday for selling the most candy? The Easter Bunny, the lily flower and the egg have, for centuries, symbolized the Easter Holiday celebration. But the fact is these symbols are never mentioned in the Bible as related to the Resurrection Sunday story. The rabbit and egg have been a symbol of new life and fertility for many cultures since ancient times.
When I became a believer in Christ, my spiritual understanding of Easter and its significance evolved. In a letter to the Corinthian church, Paul writes, “Christ died for our sins according to scripture, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day.” With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I began to experience and appreciate the work of Christ on Calvary and the significance of His resurrection.
As we approach the Easter holiday this year, I am so thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His life so that all who believe would receive eternal life. I have learned to appreciate not only the efficacious work of His death but the profound significance of His resurrection. Paul, again, quotes to the Corinthians the following: “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
But Christ was raised from the dead! The Easter Holiday embodies and symbolizes one of the most important spiritual events in Christianity. I encourage all who believe in Him to rejoice in the certainty of eternal life that He has given us through His resurrection. Many will celebrate the Easter Holidays who are not believers in Christ. Still, my prayer is that they would have a personal, life-changing encounter with God and share in the new life and hope of eternal salvation.
As I reflect on the world situation, with its diversity of challenges, I am reminded of the dire need for the hope and peace that the Christian message brings. This country alone has experienced over 500,000 deaths from the pandemic and unprecedented violence and death. There is a pervasive fear, distrust and prevailing uncertainty about the future that enshrouds our present reality. Many children and adults alike are experiencing emotional stress and mental illness, causing the suicide rate to spike to unprecedented levels.
In today’s world, now, more than ever in our history, we need a church with a unified voice that acts by the leading of the Spirit of God! Unfortunately, many believers have let politics and culture divide us, therefore rendering our voice fractured and ineffective. Consequently, the moral credibility and relevance of the church are coming more and more into question.
Lastly, my final thoughts are these: King Solomon prayed to God that he would never forsake the Nation of Israel for its rebellion if they asked for forgiveness. His response from God is recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and reads as follows: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
My prayer and hopes for this Easter season are that the body of Christ would manifest the love of God in unity and oneness by praying for America. Our prayers should be done in humility, sincerely seeking the face of God, and refusing the temptations of sin and the flesh. I am sure that our Father will do as he promised Solomon. He will bring much-needed healing to this country that we love!
Former Chatham County Commissioner Dr. Carl E. Thompson Sr. is senior pastor of the Word of Life Christian Outreach Center in Siler City.