Accra, April 9, GNA- At the Holy Spirit Cathedral, the congregation marked Good Friday with the observance of the 14 Stations of the Cross and a pledge to adhere to the teachings of Christ to make His death and resurrection beneficial. Father Delase Atsu Parku, Assistant Cathedral Administrator who preached the sermon, said the 14 Stations of the Cross depicts the trail, suffering, crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, adding that the 15th Station which was His resurrection was not a common practice to the Church in Ghana. He said the theme for the service " Re-enacting What Jesus Went Through" after he was condemned by Pontius Pilate would only be meaningful and beneficial, if only Christians adhered to the teachings of Christ and repent from their sins. "If we persist in sin, we will be increasing the suffering of Jesus Christ, making the cross heavier for Him and pushing the thorn around his head deeper into His flesh", Father Parku said. He said Christians could either behave like Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, who sympathized and empathized, Mary Magdalene who tried to comfort Jesus or those who were just observers of the suffering of Jesus. Father Parku said if Christians repented from their sins, the resurrection of Christ would achieve the purpose to which Christ died for mankind. At the Saint Paul's Catholic Church at Kpehe, Reverend Father Francis Adoboli, Parish Priest of the church, reminded Christians that the message of the Cross was still relevant for today no matter the storms of life. He said all that Christians had to do was to dedicate their lives to the cause of Christ and lead lives of triumph in the years ahead. Preaching the sermon: "I Thirst for the world", he said the death of Christ had bridged the gap between man and God. He explained that "I Thirst ", which Christ said on the cross had a deeper spiritual connotation meaning that "he is yearning for all to draw closer to him". Rev Father Adoboli called for self-discipline among Christians and avoidance of various antisocial and immoral attitudes. This, he said, would enable Christians to effect changes at "workplaces, homes and every part of society in this era of decay". Preaching the sermon at the Pentecost International Worship Centre (PIWC) at Kokomlemle, Apostle Noble Atsu, National Youth Director, Church of Pentecost, called for unity among societies, adding that the death of Christ brought reconciliation to mankind and as such it must start from the house of God. He said the period of Easter marked the time for Christians to reflect on the love of Jesus, as well as the reconciliatory power of His blood. Apostle Atsu reminded Christians of the fact that Christianity was all about relationship and that they must learn to relate better with others in other to win them for Christ. He said the beauty of Christ Jesus of how he was submissive to the crucifixion, needs to be replicated by His followers in their daily lives and this could go a long way to ensure peaceful co-existence among nations. At the Word Miracle Church at Dzorwulu, Kwame Nkrumah Circle branch, the congregation responded to God's presence with a sense of passion and love as they prayed for their sins to be remitted in order to renew their relationships with God. Members were thrilled by the sermon on the crucifixion of Christ as if it was their first time they had heard such a message. They joyfully approached their pastors to lay hands on them in order to receive God's spirit and strength in their daily lives. Apostle Hansen Adjei Frempong who preached the sermon dramatized the true meaning and significance of Christ sufferings and death on the cross indicating that Christ could not have saved himself because he was bound by love to bring hope to mankind. "Christ's sacrifice is a great demonstration of the heart of God his father, therefore nothing could stop him from fulfilling what his father sent him do". "Sin made the father left his son to suffer on the cross, be mocked at and die shamefully, so if we continue sinning as believers of Christ nothing will hold God from punishing us. If he can allow his own son to be punished because he bore the sins of mankind then God will punish us if we sin," Apostle Frempong said. At Peter Kwei Memorial Methodist Church, Osu, Christians were advised to defend the truth irrespective of the circumstances and not emulate Pontius Pilate who, for fear of the aggression of an incited mob, delivered Jesus Christ to be crucified. The Reverend Ishmael Ghansah, Minister in-charge of the Church, who gave the advice, said many Christians fail to defend the truth in their communities and workplaces because they are afraid of going against the majority or being called names. He said it was equally unacceptable to remain indifferent or mock at issues you do not understand when the truth was being sacrificed while others suffered. Preaching the sermon with the theme: " The Passion and the Death of Jesus," Rev. Ghansah said those who remain steadfast for the truth may suffer some consequence, but they would be eventually exonerated as the truth wins at the end of the day. "It is dangerous to think about what others are saying about you but to trust in God is safe," he quoted from the Book of Proverbs. "The fear of man is a sneer to all people."
Rev. Ghansah explained that Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who was asked to judge Jesus, knew that he was guiltless yet he did not defend the truth because he feared a riot by the mob. Pilate, he said, also feared that he would lose his position if he were reported to Caesar, the Emperor. However, Rev. Ghansah said the failure of Pilate to succumb to the will of God caused him his position in a disgraceful manner shortly after the death of Jesus.
Christians, he advised, should, therefore, not cling to earthly things but those that are divine, "as positions and other secular glories easily fade away". Kumasi Christians have been advised not to perceive the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ on the cross as a period of only mourning but more importantly as an avenue for them to cultivate the spirit of sacrifice. Primate S.K. Adofo, Head of the Brotherhood Church, who gave the advice, said the sacrificial spirit must be manifested practically by sharing resources with the needy. Primate Adofo was delivering the sermon at a Good Friday service at the Brotherhood Temple at South Suntreso in Kumasi. He said it was only through developing a strong sacrificial spirit that meaning could be given to the death of Christ and thereby help it to make positive impact on society. Primate Adofo said Jesus sacrificed his life to die on the cross and also spilled his blood to salvage mankind from sin, therefore it behoves Christians to also do the same if they really wanted to show appreciation for Christ's death. The Reverend Joseph K. Gyimah, Leader of the True Light of Christ Church, who also delivered a sermon at a service held at Abrepo in Kumasi, called on Christians to use the death of Christ as a platform to amend and change from their bad ways. He said the death of Christ was an indication that they should resolve to be more obedient to those entrusted with State and Traditional authority while also humbling themselves. Rev Gyimah observed that by accepting to be crucified on the cross, Jesus showed how obedient he was to his Father, God, "since his Father had asked him to sacrifice his life for the redemption of man from sin".
Preaching the sermon at the Saint Paul's Catholic Church at Amakom, Kumasi, the Very Rev Father Philip Opoku Nyame, Parish Priest, advised Christians against using the festival as an opportunity for engaging in drinking and misbehaving.
He cautioned that should that happen, Christians would only be undermining and defeating the purpose for which Christ sacrificed to die on the cross.
Very Rev Father Nyame said Christians should rather use the occasion for sober reflections and stocktaking and the renewal of their Christian values and commitments. He stressed that in renewing their commitment Christians should firmly rededicate themselves to righteous lives and good morals while setting good examples for people to copy. Tema In a sermon at the Saint Paul's Methodist Church in Tema, Right Reverend Samuel Achamfour-Yeboah, Methodist Bishop of Tema Diocese, called on Ghanaians to treat each other with respect and decorum in order to live as one people to ensure peace. "As human beings, we did not deserve the love of Christ Jesus because we were disobedient, but God in initiating our salvation expressed his love with the death of his only begotten son." He said considering the pain that Jesus endured, there is no doubt about God's love for mankind and urged that people reciprocate the agony with forgiveness of one's sins and respect for each other's views, irrespective of status or ethnicity.
Rt. Rev. Achamfour-Yeboah expressed concern about the spate of motor accidents in recent times through which many lives are lost and called on drivers to show love for their neighbour by observing traffic regulations. He asked drivers to eschew recklessness and drive passengers to their destinations safely. "God came to save lives and so drivers must not negligently destroy the lives of others prematurely," he added. Takoradi At Takoradi, Venerable Abraham Ackah, Archdeacon and Vicar-General of Anglican Diocese of Sekondi, called on Ghanaians to see themselves as one people irrespective of their political affiliations, especially during and after this year's elections. Preaching at the All Saints Anglican Church, Archdeacon Ackah said Ghanaians should let love for one another permeate all that they do this year and that people should eschew negative pronouncements that would breed rancour and hatred. "Let us live as one people without forgetting that all of us are the children of one God and we must pray for peace, unity and love so that we will elect God fearing leaders," he said. Venerable Ackah said Good Friday teaches Christians that life would not be easy for them at all times, saying, there would be periods of trials, temptation and troubles but there would be triumph and victory in the end. "It also teaches us virtue of forgiveness, because as Christ hung on the cross, he prayed for forgiveness even for his enemies," he said adding that, as a nation we must learn to forgive one another. Venerable Ackah said the greatest gift of God to man is that he allowed his son to die on the cross so that he would forgive us our sins. "If God has shown us such love, then we must also express the same love to each other and live in harmony and peace". At another service, Reverend Samuel Attuah, head of the Sekondi Gospel Foundation Church, in a message, said the growth of every country depended on the well-being of its children. Therefore the youth should be given the necessary training to make them responsible, respectful of their social background and prepare them adequately for adult life. He said the country's development agenda would not be meaningful if the needs and aspirations of children are neglected. Rev. Attuah urged parents to spend more of their resources to educate their children, adding that, such children would grow to become peace loving and useful citizens. He said the country needs peace and everyone must ensure that they live and practice it irrespective of the prevailing conditions. Christians, Politicians and students should understand the benefits of peace and use it in all their activities, he reiterated. Rev. Emmanuel Baidoo, in charge of the Beroea Christian Service Mission International at Tanokrom, said Easter should remind all Christians of their selflessness to mankind, and therefore they are expected to continue to be witnesses of Christ wherever they find themselves. He said though it would not be easy to be like Christ, sacrifice, understanding and continual reliance on God, should serve as the watchwords for Christians. Rev. Baidoo advised Ghanaians to bury their differences. "As we approach an election year, there is the need for all Ghanaians to be each other's keeper and safeguard the prevailing peace in the country". Mrs Sonekan who is also the Spiritual Mother of the Church said Easter is not a season for merry making and social activities but rather for a sober and thorough reflection on one's lifestyles, attitudes towards others and general regard for God. She said anyone who ignores the values of Easter and the hope of resurrection, would be jeopardising his own future. She urged Ghanaians to renew their heart, mind and attitude and commit their lives to God and ensure that they spread the message of Easter. The Rev. Alexander Botchway, Minister in Charge of the Takoradi International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), said Easter should motivate Ghanaians to walk in a renewed state of mind. He reminded Ghanaians of the HIV/AIDS and urged them to avoid acts that could ruin their lives, adding that, everyone needs to adopt morally upright lifestyles that would be acceptable to God. Rev. John Kwofie, Host Pastor of the Takoradi First Baptist Church said, Easter is Jesus' triumph for Christianity and for the liberation of mankind. "As a people we need to live in peace and understanding to enable all to enjoy the benefits of the death and resurrection of Jesus". He said Politicians and supporters of political parties should avoid utterances and acts that could lead to confusion, break down of law and order, and added that the media should also be factual, truthful and transparent in their reportage. Rev. Kwofie charged churches and their leaders to unite and serve as rallying points for the country. "Being a minister of the gospel, makes you an opinion leader in your church and community and all must use such positions to foster closer collaboration among the larger societies." Rev. Kwofie said peace should be "a continuous process" and everyone must make it a priority to sustain it irrespective of the challenges they face at home, school, or at their work place. The Rev. Francis Kojo Ennuson, Minister in charge of the Nkotompo Nazareth Methodist Church, called on Politicians to use the Easter season to acknowledge the positive contributions of their opponents. "We must not see our opponents as enemies instead we should work hand in hand to accelerate the development of the country". Rev. Ennuson said the scramble for leadership positions in the church and in political circles, should not be done at the expense of the country's unity. "You must follow Christ's example of leadership, which is for the service of the people and not for their exploitation". He cautioned church leaders who lord it over their members to re-assess themselves, adopt positive and humble leadership qualities that transforms the lives of individuals. He stressed that disobedience, drunkenness and other social vices among the youth could be reversed if parents would counsel and guide them in their day-to-day activities.
Rev. Ennuson urged married couples to be humble to each other and avoid unnecessary competitions. Ho At Ho, Reverend Frank Anku, Synod Clerk of the Evangelical Presbyterian (E.P) Church, Ghana, said the humility and fortitude displayed by Christ on the cross should be a re-awakening victory for tolerance among people of the world. He therefore exhorted Christians to be steadfast and rekindle this feat for peace and tranquillity to prevail in the world. Rev Anku was delivering a sermon on John 19:17-22, under the theme, "The Cross-The Symbol of Triumph" at the Dela Cathedral E.P Church in Ho. He said the hard road to success was seldom, a path of roses but intimated that Christians should remain prayerful, as "success does not come on silver-platter". Rev Anku urged Christians to continue to wear the crown of victory as a symbol of their triumph over failures and disease. He said the battle of the cross, which confronted mankind and manifests socially, economically and politically should be won because Jesus Christ had shown the way. "Even if failure stares at us in the face, do not hate any, because Christ did not reject any", he said. Cape Coast At Cape Coast, a visiting member of the Order of Saint Helena, in the United States, Reverend Sister Rosina Ampah, called on Christians not to just stand by and watch the perpetuation of evil and cruelty in the society, but take the requisite stand in ensuring that there is justice for all mankind. She pointed out that when Christ spoke the words "I thirst on the cross", he did not mean that he thirsted for water, but for the righteousness that comes from God, and that all mankind should therefore thirst for righteousness. Rev sister Ampah made the call when in a Good Friday service at the Christ the King Cathedral of the Anglican Church.
Rev Ampah said the last words of Jesus Christ on the cross, signified the need for reconciliation, accepting responsibility for wrongdoing and the promotion of peace in society, and urged all Christians to continue the ministry that Christ began.
"God has already reconciled us and we need to take it from there and continue the ministry", she declared.
Delivering the sermon, at the Varrick A.M.E Zion church, the Rev Wilberforce Wireko, appealed to Christians to speak the truth at all times, and regretted that many Christians, behave like Judas Iscariot and undermine and betray their neighbours.
At the Wesley Methodist church, the Very Reverend Albert Kweku Kittoe, the circuit minister, urged the congregation to learn a lesson from the birth of Jesus Christ, his life and death, and to be humble and tolerant. According to him, the crucifixion of Christ brought hope, salvation and victory to all mankind. He therefore called on Christians to have faith in God in whatever they do in order to achieve success.
He asked the congregation to reconcile and forgive all those who have in one way or the other offended them, as Christ did to his enemies, stressing that this would help unite the nation and move it forward. Kumasi The Very Reverend Kofi Asare-Bediako, Superintendent Minister in-charge of the Wesley Methodist Church, Kumasi, asked Ghanaians to let Christ's crucifixion serve as a constant reminder about the need to work for peace and live in harmony with one another.
He noted that the essence of the "Messiah's death" was to bring peace to the world by reconciling man with God.
The Very Rev Asare-Bediako said: "this occasion should be used to strengthen our resolve as a people to genuinely reconcile and be at peace with our Creator, neighbours, environment and ourselves".
He observed that the underlying causes of most of the conflicts in the African continent had been political and said for that matter, "as the country prepares to go to polls this year, it is important for all to remember that we are one people sharing a common destiny.
We must therefore, not allow ourselves to be torn apart and be at each other's throat just for reasons of partisan politics".
The Right Reverend Nuh Ben Abubekr, Methodist Bishop of Kumasi, called on Christians to trust God and rely on his promises.
Preaching the sermon, Pastor Paul Bedim, in-charge of Kumasi Area Northern Outreach Ministry of the Church of Pentecost, advised Ghanaians to tolerate each other's view and see themselves as one people in order to promote peace and unity in the country.
They should also surrender their lives to Christ and pray to ensure peace and stability in the country especially during the electioneering campaigns.
Pastor Bedim was speaking at a four-day convention of the Church at Adum, Kumasi on Good Friday.
The convention is being attended by members from the three northern regions. It has the theme: "Jesus said all power is given onto me". Pastor Bedim said Christ had demonstrated greater love by laying His life for the salvation of mankind.
He urged Ghanaians to reciprocate the gesture by showing love to each other to promote peace in order to deepen democracy in the country. He said Easter afforded the opportunity to everybody irrespective of his tribe, race and creed to hear the message and surrender himself to Christ.
Pastor Bedim said the Northern Outreach Ministry of the Church was an evangelical wing created to evangelise with all northerners in the Kumasi area.
He urged the people of the northern extraction to accept Christ as their personal saviour and worship Him always.
At the African Faith Ministry International at Oforikrom, Kumasi, the Reverend James Kwabena Badu, the General Overseer, said it was time ministers of religion pointed the wrongs of members of the Church despite their position or status.
He said by so doing, members would change and their attitude and build the church and also facilitate the socio-economic and religious development of the country.
He told the members of the Church to let the suffering of Jesus Christ transcend in their lives.
Rev Badu stressed that there was the need for them to tell the truth at all times no matter the circumstances.
"As we celebrate Good Friday, we must know that there is some one fighting for us and it behoves all of us to come together as one group of people with a common destiny and lead good moral lives worthy of emulation", he said. Ho At the Ho Bankoe Elorm Parish of the E.P. Church, Mrs Esther Adu-Yao, Catechist, urged Christians to let the spirit of forgiveness demonstrated by Jesus Christ towards those who masterminded, mocked and carried out his crucifixion be a symbol of their lives.
She said though an annual Christian ritual every Easter provides new lessons and dimensions about true Christian life through introspection. Mrs Adu-Yao said every true Christian must be ready to say sorry when he or she offends the other person and also accept without reservations, apologies from others for wrongs done to them.
She said unless Christians were ready to emulate this lesson of the cross, they would be constantly "crucifying" Jesus Christ who has laid the foundation for forgiveness for all humanity. Aflao At Aflao, Bishop Thomas Lekeh, founder and leader of the Holy Ghost temple Church at exhorted Christians to lead lives which are in conformity with the examples of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Lekeh said unless Christians reflect the life of Jesus Christ practically to the rest of the world the significance of his death and resurrection would be lost on the world.
He therefore urged Christians to change their lives for the better in order to attract the blessings of God and Jesus Christ.
The Reverend Fitzgerald Odonkor, Head Pastor of Harvest Chapel International the Church, advised politicians, media practitioners and the general public to champion the crusade of reconciliation, sacrifices and truthfulness as the nation prepares for Elections in 2004.
He said, "The growth and development of every country depends largely on the principles and virtues of patriotism, tolerance and sense of nationhood which are vital pillars for a peaceful, transparent and credible elections." He therefore, urged religious leaders, politicians and journalists to be let Jesus Christ's ultimate sacrifices on the cross to save mankind, guide their actions, campaign messages and reportage. Rev. Odonkor who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after the Good Friday Service reminded Ghanaians that "Ghana is our only country; its preservation must override any parochial, individual and political interest".
The service focused mainly on the reading of the Seven Sayings of Christ on the cross, which was solemnly inter-spread with hymns, praises and worship songs.
Rev. Odonkor said the message of Good Friday must stir the church, politicians and journalists to up-hold and champion principles in all sphere of life to enhance the living standards of the Ghanaians. He said truth would always stand and prevail over falsehood, beyond all schemes, strategies, and propaganda, adding that in all their rallies, they must recognise God as Supreme. Rev. Odonkor said Good Friday serves as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices of God for total and unconditional reconciliation. He therefore, called for emulation of virtues, and unconditional sacrifices through the provision of comfort, money, material, time, and resources to enhance the conditions of others. Rev. Odonkor urged Church leaders to inculcate in their members their civic responsibilities to their families, communities and nation. Preaching the sermon, Rev. Kwesi Dickson a Senior Pastor of the Church reminded Christians of the power of the crucifixion to liberate, cleanse and have authority over sin. Rev. Dickson said Christ's death signified the direct assess to the kingdom of God. Accra At the Calvary Methodist Church at Adabraka, Accra, the Rev Prof Kwesi Abotsia Dickson, Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church, called on mankind to give out themselves to God.
Preaching the sermon, he said the death of Christ was a prophetic declaration of his suffering in order to redeem mankind from sin. Reverend Prof Dickson stressed the need for all to sacrifice and be prepared to give of themselves, not only to their families, but their communities, the nation and for humanity as a whole.
He said everybody has a contribution to make to the development of his environment no matter his status.
He said like Jesus, one needed not to be prominent before he could make sacrifices to each other.
"Nobody should say I'm worthless," he said.
As part of the sacrifice, Rev Prof Dickson said those suffering from AIDS should not be shunned.
Rather they must be shown love and care as experience, from his interactions with some of them showed that they felt their burden lessened when they are shown love.
Rev Prof Dickson said the death of Jesus was not a disaster. "It was a victory over evil, and the resurrection of Christ is a continuation of good works of God".
He urged the congregation to be guided by truth for national progress. At the Valley of Grace International Ministry at Mamprobi, Reverend Ivy Tetteh, the General Overseer urged Christians to pray unceasingly for the December elections so that the current peace in the country was not sacrificed for any political reason.
She said Christians must recognize that the sustainability of peace was their responsibility adding, " That is why we have been made watchtower of the nation to guard and keep it safe, as well as shape its future". Reverend Ivy was preaching on the theme " Achieving Greater Height through his blood and the power of his Resurrection". The Church observed the death of Christ in a manner of taking sober reflection of the agonies Christ went through on the cross, she said. She was optimistic that the coming years would usher the country into an era of great economic prosperity.
"Just as the death of Christ has liberated man, in the same way it will free the country of its present predicament and pave way for economic progress".
Reverend Ivy urged the church to ensure that their lives did not impact negatively on the society.
" Let us be mindful of our deeds so that we do not make the death of Christ meaningless", she added.
She called particularly on the youth to eschew evil practices since they had the tendency of destroying their lives.