An Easter in Africa
I have been in Kigali, Rwanda, for this past week and have received none of the usual cues that Easter is upon us. In fact, the only one that I have had was seeing the streets full last Sunday of people carrying palm branches following Palm Sunday church services.
Leading up to Easter in Australia, there is a sense of gaudy celebration in the supermarkets as they do their best to sell as much chocolate, bunny ears, and related products as possible. There is no questioning the dates of Easter, as they are marked clearly on office work schedules. The long weekend provided by Easter also provides a topic of conversation in the weeks leading up to it, with people asking each other how they will spend the holiday. Some will be going away, others will be arranging easter egg hunts for their children, or taking time to rest from their busy lives. Here in Rwanda, the mood has not been filled with the same atmosphere of celebration.
Last week saw the nation thinking back on the genocide upon the 20th anniversary of that shattering event. People mourned the horrors committed, and the work of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing continued. Everywhere you went you were reminded of it, with every flag in the nation flying at half mast. And everyday you would hear singing coming from churches, or walk past large gatherings of people finding solace in sharing their stories. It was a sober week.
That sobriety has followed into this one. As I woke this morning, I found that the queitness surrounding me led me to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice. The horrors the world witnessed during the genocide bear witness to the brokenness of this world and its need of a Saviour. The ministry of reconciliation and healing that the church is still walking out here, 20 years on, bears witness to the world’s need for a Healer. And that is what Christ came for:
As it is written, “Not even one person is righteous. (Romans 3:10)
But God demonstrates his love for us by the fact that the Messiah died for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
I pray that wherever you find yourself in the world this weekend, and whatever the environment is, that you will make time to ponder on the great love of God and the sacrifice He made for you and for me.
And come Sunday morning, I pray that the mood of quiet reflection and solemnity will change to one of joy and celebration for the new life we have in Christ!
Therefore, through baptism we were buried with him into his death so that, just as the Messiah was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too may live an entirely new life. (Romans 6:4)