The real meaning Easter in Dominica in 2016
For Christians around the world Easter is the most important event on the religious calendar. It is so because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith. In other words, if Christ did not die between the years 30 and 33 at Calvary in First Century Palestine, then the whole Christian movement would have been a complete waste of time and energy for about two thousand years. If Christ did not rise from the grave Christianity is dead.
But religious historians have assured us that Easter is as real as the sunlight and the rain. Real too is the trauma that Dominicans feel in 2016 as the country is caught in the tragedy of child sexual abuse.
The most painful part of the recent revelations of men in high places who have been abusing a 15 year-old girl is that almost everyone knows that this is just the tip of the iceberg; this is just the slime that rose to the surface, the real septic tank of child sexual abuse lies in the dark corners of our villages and towns.
We are therefore not surprised that that Antigua's Daily Observer reported on March 15th that a survey has disclosed that "the number of incidents of teenage girls and boys being sexually abused by adults for material gain is prevalent in two Caribbean countries" that is, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.
At Easter 2016 Dominica is also still reeling from the effects of Tropical Storm Erika; the storm that washed away Dominica's infrastructure, its economy and its dreams.
But Easter brings hope that the country's suffering will not be in vain. As more than one billion Christians around the world, including about 50, 000 here in Dominica celebrate Easter next week, we will participate in an event that will once again have us wondering at the amazing 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 hundreds of years ago.
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. As we said earlier, 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 Dominicans out of their daily draught and frustrations. The celebration of that event can free Christians in Dominica and elsewhere from the challenges of 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. On page 19 of this issue of the Sun, Ian Jackson argues that Dominicans see Easter as an opportunity to "sewo", that is, more merrymaking. Jackson contends that we have forgotten the meaning of these events. In fact a few people have suggested that the names of these Christian holidays should be changed to reflect the true meaning of these occasions. Good Friday, for example, should be changed to Crucifixion Friday and Easter Monday to Resurrection Monday.
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 unsavoury association to Lent can be avoided. But so far the Catholic Church and the Government of Dominica have not been convinced.
Nevertheless, Easter will always be an occasion to remind Dominicans of the unrelenting darkness that currently surround our country and the world. Almost every day we are confronted with news of rampant violence, war, diseases, genocide, rape, hunger and ignorance. So no one should blame sceptics 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.
So Easter represents hope for Dominicans especially during this period of rising child sexual abuse, high unemployment, a dying economy and a dearth of the integrity 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. Dominica will rise again.