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Religion of Thursday, 17 April 2014

Source: Graphic Online

Easter must influence change in lifestyles - Clergy

Leaders of churches in Ghana have urged Ghanaians to seize the opportunity offered by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to sacrifice in their services to the country in its development efforts.

They also urged Ghanaians to use the season to resolve to stay away from materialism, corruption, unhealthy politics and immorality, among other social vices.

The leaders, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), Rev Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong and the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Most Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante, made the call in separate interviews, while the message of the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Most Rev Joseph Osei-Bonsu, was contained in a statement. Appropriate benefits of Easter

Rev. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong said grace and unmerited favour came to all mankind by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Through that, every person who found himself or herself in an undesirable situation, such as hardship or sickness, could have the undeserved support or aid of God needed to alleviate the hardship because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

He noted that all Ghanaians needed to learn how to appropriate the unmerited grace and favour made available through Christ and, in the process, learn how to sacrifice in service to the country’s development.

For pastors of the Gospel, Rev. Opuni-Frimpong urged them to use the period to focus on the needs of their vulnerable congregants.

He said the undue commercialisation of the Gospel had to end.

In a press statement signed by him and released after the interview, Rev Opuni-Frimpong reiterated his message given in the interview and admonished all with 1 Peter 1:3-5: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance, an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay...”

Fresh beginnings

The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, for his part, tasked all to use the opportunities of the newness of life and hope offered by the commemoration of Easter to start afresh in all endeavours of life.

“Use the newness that the resurrection of Christ brings to us as Ghanaians to endeavour to work for the benefit of the country and not allow any divisions, particularly during this period of a trying economic situation,” he advised.

Endorsing the call by the Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, for a national dialogue on the country’s economy, the Most Rev. Prof. Asante added that Ghanaians had to take inspiration from what the Easter period symbolised, that is, sacrifice and newness of life, to build the country.

He encouraged all to avail themselves of the benefits of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and eschew the pursuit of entertainment and self-gratification during the commemoration of the period.

Catholic Bishops

In his message, the Most Rev Joseph Osei-Bonsu said if Christians believed in the resurrection, it was important for them not to be engrossed in earthly or material things.

He said although human beings needed material things to live in this world, they would be setting their priorities upside down if they got obsessed with acquiring material things.

He said Easter offered the newness of life, hence the need for Christians to continually “seek to become better people, new people liberated from the shackles of sin and people who are a new creation”.

The Most Rev. Osei-Bonsu, who is also the Catholic Bishop of Konongo-Mampong, further urged Christians to use the occasion to pray for and work towards the realisation of peace in all sectors of society and ensure that “we put an end to everything that does not promote peace, especially conflict and violence”.

“The celebration of Easter should make us rise above all negative or harmful ethnic sentiments and see ourselves as members of one nation. As members of the one family — Ghanaians — let us realise that there is the need for us to live in unity and eschew all harmful ethnocentric tendencies and sentiments,” he admonished.

Easter and morality

On the moral front, he urged Ghanaians to put an end to immoral acts. “We need to put an end to corruption, immoral sexual living, embezzlement of public funds, armed robbery, use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and Indian hemp, drunkenness, reckless driving, Internet fraud, the practice of “sakawa” and other forms of fraud that are destroying the nation,” the Most Rev Osei-Bonsu said.

Easter and political life

He entreated politicians to take a cue from Christ’s resurrection to life and rise above the unhealthy politics that the nation was experiencing.

“They should not do politics along ethnic lines. They should also put an end to pulling down their political colleagues in the interest of their own political agenda. They should desist from unnecessary and unhealthy rivalry between political parties.

“An end should also be put to the culture of insults that has become a common phenomenon these days in political discourse. Making pronouncements that do not promote peace, but rather create confusion, rancour, bitterness and resentment must be buried as we mark this year’s death and resurrection of the Saviour of humanity,” he concluded.

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