Easter 2021 message from The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I greet you all in the name of our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ!
Our theme for this Easter comes from Luke 24:52: “Jesus is risen to be worshiped.”
A year ago, the global Covid pandemic tried to lockdown the church. No one was celebrating Good Friday or Easter in church buildings. Covid tried to lockdown Jesus; it tried to bury him in a cave and seal it with a huge stone. But, the stone was rolled away. Death could not lockdown Jesus. And, Covid could not lockdown the Gospel. Jesus is risen and he can be worshiped not only in churches, but everywhere two or three are gathered together in his name.
I am grateful this Easter that some members of our churches are allowed to gather in their church buildings to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.
I also encourage the government to lift the restrictions on children coming to church. Just as children are returning to school, the church is very ready to receive our children for only one hour per week in an organized way that upholds the SOPs. Our children need to be in church with their families.
I still encourage everyone to worship daily at home, even if you are going to church each Sunday. Family worship is essential in sustaining our faith and in raising children to know and love the Lord.
I am here today to declare to you that the greatest force on earth – death itself – could not hold Jesus down. He was killed and buried on Good Friday. But, on Easter morning, he was raised from the dead. He is alive and will never die again. Jesus is risen to be worshiped.
We extend our sincere sympathies to those who have lost loved ones since last Easter, whether from Covid or some other reason. We especially extend our condolences to our Tanzanian friends and neighbours who just lost their beloved President and son of Africa. We stand with you in this time and are praying for you. In this season of the Resurrection, we remember the words of the beloved hymn, “Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.”
Many people are still struggling to find how to survive. In spite of that, just remember, “Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.”
We are grateful that some of the youth who mysteriously disappeared have been found and reunited with their families. We are also aware that there are still others who have not yet been found. We stand with you in your grief and confusion. But, take heart. God knows every hair on their head. And, “Because he lives, we can face tomorrow.”
We also appeal to the government to follow-through with your commitment to find those who have been abducted and return them to their families.
There are fathers, uncles, and cousin brothers in our families who have defiled their daughters and sisters and impregnated them. This is one of the most discouraging pieces of news I’ve heard in a long time. To those girls, who are now mothers, as a church, we want you to know that we love you because God loves you, and he loves your baby. Always remember, “Because he lives, you can face tomorrow.”
To the families of those perpetrators, we know you are trying to protect yourselves from the shame. Just know that the source of shame is always sin, not the one who exposes the sin. Shame does not go away by hiding it. The only way shame can go away is by confessing it and allowing God’s forgiveness to go deep into your family. The answer to that shame is Jesus and his resurrection. “Because he lives, you can face tomorrow.”
To those men and brothers who have violated such a taboo as defiling your own daughters or sisters, we urge you to turn to Jesus. Do as the thief on the other cross did – he confessed aloud, “We are being punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” He then turned to Jesus on the cross and begged, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” There is still hope for you to change your life. Please seek out your local Pastor, confess your sins, and discover that “Because He lives, you can face tomorrow.”
Fathers and uncles and brothers are supposed to protect our daughters and sisters, not abuse them. This is the way of the Bible, but it is also our culture. This collapse of our families is why I have repeatedly called us to consider how to support the Boy Child. Local churches and communities need to take initiatives and not wait for some programme to reach your village.
We got an email recently from a woman in Gomba who was inspired by the Archbishop’s Leadership Summit and my call for the Conversion of the Head and a mindset change. She told us that she has started a local ministry called The Boy Child Walking the Talk Ministry. I love what she has done. I encourage all local communities to reverse this dangerous trend. We must train the boy child to become respectful husbands and fathers so they will protect women and girls, not abuse them.
I want to briefly address the topic of the Covid vaccine. There are a lot of mixed messages circulating on social media about the safety of the vaccine. I took time to study the matter and consulted with leading physicians in our hospitals, who were very helpful to me.
As you know, I personally decided to be vaccinated and received the first dose of the vaccine on Monday. I was persuaded that the vaccine is safe and the benefits of protecting myself from a serious case of Covid are much better than the small possibility of side effects. I encourage each person, particularly those considered vulnerable, to also study the matter and make an informed decision for yourself.
The Church of Uganda is hosting this year’s Good Friday Way of the Cross. My colleagues, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga and Metropolitan Lwanga, will join me for this annual joint observance of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Because of SOPs, this year’s observance will be small. We invite all Christians to watch it live on UBC from 9 a.m. We also encourage all Christians to observe Good Friday in your local churches and with your families.
I don’t know what hopeless thing you are facing in your life, but Easter is the proof that there is always hope. Why is there always hope? “Because he lives, we can face tomorrow.”
Our theme for this year is “Life in its Fullness.” If Jesus has conquered death, then he can also conquer whatever it is that is holding you back from experiencing Life in its Fullness. If you want the same kind of breakthrough that Jesus had when he broke through the grave, then this season is the best time to surrender to Jesus and attach your life to his.
Finally, this year is the 60th anniversary of the Church of Uganda becoming an independent and self-governing Province. Sixty years ago, in 1961, Bishop Leslie Brown was enthroned as the first Archbishop of the independent Church of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire (eastern Congo).
We shall be having several events throughout this year to mark 60 years as an independent, self-governing Province in the Anglican Communion. We invite you to celebrate with us! In spite of all the challenges we have been through, in this Easter season, we joyfully proclaim, “Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.”
We send Easter greetings to the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his dear wife, Mama Janet, to all outgoing and incoming Members of Parliament and local governments, and to the members of the Judiciary.
I also greet all the Bishops and their wives, the Clergy, Lay Readers, and Christians of the Church of Uganda.
Finally, I send my sincere greetings, along with prayers for a blessed Holy Week and glorious Easter for our Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal brethren, and to all those who have put their trust and faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.
This Easter, as families and as a country, may we all know this truth about Jesus – “Because he lives, we can face tomorrow.” Happy Easter!