More than one billion Christians around the world, including about 50, 000 here in Dominica will celebrate Easter next week and in the process renew their faith and hope for a new world. Christians who participate in Easter activities will once again wonder at the power of the living God who died and rose from the dead to save the world. This is the essence of the Christian faith and the essential meaning of Easter.

Every year during this time, Christians celebrate the resurrection- God raising His Son Jesus from the grave but to Christians, Easter also symbolizes the fact that the majestic God can also work wonders to transform their lives. Christians believe fervently that if they walk and live like Christ, they too, will rise from the grave as Christ did at Easter many years ago.

Of course Easter has special meaning at this time as almost every nation, including ours, groan under the pain and strain of economic woes and crime and natural disasters. So, even the perpetual optimists will agree that hope is one of the scarcest ingredients. Yet in the story of Easter there is hope for everyone especially for persons enduring emotional turmoil, for the children suffering from the effects of child sexual abuse and for the youth who have been standing in the unemployment line for as long as they care to remember.

Recall that the story of Easter began on Good Friday when Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. The apostle Luke reports that on the first day of the week at dawn, the women would come to the tomb, taking with them the spices that they had prepared. When they arrived they found the stones had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb and the body was missing. But before he died Jesus predicted that he would have vacated his grave three days after his death and Christians believed him. They had faith that the mystery of the resurrection was part of a large and wondrous plan.

Some persons have argued that without the resurrection, Christ would be just another man who was crucified. In fact, the credibility of the entire teachings of the Christian church relies on the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Christ did not rise from the grave then the whole of Christian faith is a fake and a massive fraud. But there is abundant evidence from the records of the early church and from archaeologists that the resurrection of Jesus Christ may be a fact of history.

Easter can then be compared to rain which lifts Christians out of their daily draught and frustrations. The celebration of that event can free Christians from the rigors of everyday life and help them become fully human and to understand the meaning of life. This is what Easter is all about; this is what Christianity is all about. At Easter, Christians remember God's power and the potential for life-giving transformation.

But some Christians are worried that Easter and other important Christian holidays are now popularly regarded as occasions for fetes; carnival and Christmas are typical examples. And like Easter, these occasions are seen as opportunities for more merrymaking. Apparently, we have forgotten the meaning of these events. That is probably why televangelist Reverend Evy Hill, a few years ago suggested that the names of these Christian holidays should be changed to reflect the true meaning of these occasions. Reverend Hill suggested, for example, that Good Friday should be changed to Crucifixion Friday and Easter Monday to Resurrection Monday. But you may argue, what's in a name and as Shakespeare said in one of his famous plays: a rose by any other name smells as sweet.

What about Carnival, you ask? We have argued many times in the past that Carnival, which ushers in the Lenten period with what is widely considered to be rather un-Christian like excesses and rampant debauchery should be shifted to another date on Dominica's events calendar so that the unsavory association to Lent can be avoided. But so far the Catholic Church and the Government of Dominica have not been convinced by these arguments.

Nevertheless, Easter will always be an occasion to remind Christians of the unrelenting darkness that currently surround the world. Almost every day we are confronted with news of rampant violence, war, AIDS, genocide, rape, hunger and ignorance. So no one should blame skeptics for believing that God may have fallen asleep on the job or may have given up on this hapless world. But Easter reminds us that God is very much alive, that there is hope for those who believe and act on that belief.

In the sphere of everyday living, Easter represents hope for Dominicans especially during this period of high unemployment and a dearth of integrity and honesty of elected officials. If we have faith in the resilience of the people of Dominica we know that our political and economic resurrection will come soon.