There was a lady who once said that she didn’t like Good Friday. She much preferred Easter to Good Friday, because Good Friday was about death, blood, and suffering. Easter, she said, was much happier. So, she didn’t go to church on Good Friday because it was depressing, but she liked Easter.
My Fellow Ugandans, I am here today to tell you that you can’t have one without the other.
You can’t have Good Friday without Easter, and you can’t have Easter without Good Friday. They go together.
I want to share with you something you may not know about our faith.
When God created man and woman, he made them different from all the other animals. Men and women are made in the image of God. Animals are not made in the image of God. Part of what this means is that we human beings have been given a will – the ability to choose one thing rather than another. Animals can’t choose – they are driven only by instinct and desire. But, people can choose.
The problem came when Sin entered the world and human beings were trapped by Sin into choosing wrong things. We were bound to choose things that are not good for us or others. Because of Sin, we are not able to follow God’s ways which lead us to flourish and thrive.
The reality of Good Friday – and this is also the Good News – is that through Jesus’ death on the cross and our personal trust in it, the bondage of our will has been broken. We are now free from this power of Sin in our lives. Hallelujah!
But, there’s more. There is much, much more.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead, he is alive now. That means his power and presence are available to us now. Even today.
It means we are also free to love God and to love our neighbour, which we couldn’t do before.
Before, we were trapped in our selfish greed of loving only ourselves and serving only our own interests.
Now, we have not only been set free from the slavery of sin, but we are also free to live in the power of Jesus’ resurrection today, not just after we die.
Yes, Jesus’ resurrection gives us life after death, but it also gives us life BEFORE death.
Because of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, our will – our ability to choose and make good decisions – has been redeemed.
My fellow Ugandans, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can now exercise self-control as God designed us to do when he made us in his image. We are no longer like animals that follow only our instincts and desires.
As you know, the Church of Uganda has declared 2019 to be the Year of Children. I have said many times that our children are suffering. They are suffering from neglect and from abuse. Most of the suffering our children endure is because of selfish decisions made by their parents.
But, Parents – I am here today to tell you that you no longer have to be enslaved to your selfish decisions. When you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour, you can walk in the power of his death and resurrection.
Parents – you can control your sexual urges and stop defiling children and stay faithful to your spouse. We all know what it is like to attend the burial of a man in our community and for children from other women to appear at the burial asking for support. Most of the time, his wife and her children never knew about these other women and their children.
Jesus’ death and resurrection give you the power to exercise self-control. You are no longer a slave to your sexual instincts and desires.
Parents – you can control your time and make sure you give your children enough of your undivided attention to talk with them and be engaged with them. Too many parents leave the house before the children are awake and return home after they are asleep. Children are not being raised by their parents, but are being raised by house helpers who may not share your values. Children get concerned and think they are the ones who have caused their parents to neglect them. But, that’s not true. Children haven’t done anything wrong. It’s their parents who have chosen their own selfish interests and neglected their children.
But, Parents – Jesus’ death and resurrection gives you the power to exercise self-control. You are no longer a slave to your selfish interests and desires. You have the power of Jesus’ resurrection and are free to give your children the time and attention they deserve.
Step-parents. I also want to say something to you. There are good step-parents in Uganda, but there are also step-parents who are monsters. Some of you force your partner to choose between you or the child. The child is the one who suffers by being sent away to be cared for by a relative or a stranger who considers the child only as cheap labour to fetch water and firewood. Many of these children end up being trafficked into sex slavery. This is terrible and must stop.
Please hear the good news! Jesus’ death and resurrection gives you the power to be set free from your selfish interests and to be free to love your step-children.
Our children desperately need parents who have embraced the death and resurrection of Jesus for themselves. It is the only way to protect our children and ensure they have the best opportunities to grow into the full stature of Christ and to also personally know the freedom that comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus.
We send special Easter greetings to the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Mama Janet;
The Vice President of Uganda;
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament and all Members of Parliament;
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister;
Members of the Judiciary;
Our Brothers and Sisters in other Denominations;
My Brother Bishops, Clergy, Lay Readers and all Christians in all our Dioceses and
All of you fellow Ugandans!
I wish you all a joyful Easter. May you fully and completely choose both the death and the resurrection of Jesus this Easter so that Easter 2019 will be a turning point in your life, the lives of our children, and in our life as a country.
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.