Christ has died! Christ is Risen! Christ will come again!
This proclamation affirms what is at the heart of the Easter message for Christian believers: that Jesus in his humanity surrendered his life and underwent suffering, humiliation and death in order that all might have life in him; that God raised him from the dead.
Far from being just a remembrance of something which happened two thousand years ago, it is our faith that the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, intertwines with the life of each of us. We too have our times of suffering and humiliation, times of joy when we have overcome our night of struggles - and times of great hope when new life and personal transformation emerges out of the ashes of our dying and rising each day. And for the one who has faith, the words of St Paul rings true: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Holy Week, for all Catholics is a celebration of these mysteries; it all begins with Palm Sunday (last week) followed by the Easter Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the institution of the priesthood. Good Friday, the only day of the year where there is no Mass commemorates the death of Jesus through the adoration of the cross which follows the readings about the passion.
And the liturgy of Easter vigil celebrating Christ’s resurrection, is resplendent with the symbols of the Easter Fire, the Paschal Candle, beautiful readings and joyous singing.
At this time of Easter, the message of Pope Francis to every young Christian can also be applied to all believers irrespective of age:
"Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world… Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!
He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope."
- Sister Elizabeth Browne-Russell.
Catholic Church services: Avarua Cathedral – Thursday 7pm, Good Friday stations of the Cross 9am and Veneration of the Cross 3pm, Saturday 8pm, Sunday 10am (note only one mass); St Mary’s Arorangi – Thursday 9pm, Friday 9am and 3pm, Saturday 9pm, Sunday 10am; St Paul’s Titikaveka – Thursday 5pm, Friday 9am and 3pm, Saturday 6pm, Sunday 10.30am; Sacred Heart Matavera – Thursday 6.30pm, Friday 9am and 3pm, Saturday 7pm, Sunday 8am.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
He is Risen. Jesus Christ rose from the dead because death could no longer hold him, and we no longer have to fear death because Christ has triumphed over it. This is the power of His resurrection.
This was a major petition of the apostle Paul, where he defends the reality of the resurrection by explaining that the truth of the gospel depends upon it:
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
Paul explains that the resurrection is not only an essential part of the gospel, but it is the cement that holds every part of the gospel together. Without it, we are trusting in vain and are without hope.
But because Christ has risen, we have the hope of having our sins forgiven, being made complete through God’s love, and receiving eternal life through our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ and being forgiven of our sins, aligns us once again with God and gives us great hope.
His resurrection means that when we die, we will rise again like He did.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
We can all enjoy the resurrected life just like Christ did, with glorified bodies raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
The way to receive forgiveness and eternal life is by believing in Jesus Christ and turning away from our sins. Believing in Christ and obeying His commandments is what makes all of the benefits of the resurrection ours.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this? (John 11:25-26)
The question is then: Do you believe? He lives, He is risen. Happy Easter.
- John Mateara
Latter Day Saints services: Avarua - Sunday 9am to 10am, Sacrament Meeting at 10.10am - 11am, all other branches begin at 9am.
Cook Islands Christian Church
“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen….” These were the words heard by the women who went to the sepulchre early on Sunday morning.
An important evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that of the resurrection narratives themselves. There are four of them, one in each Gospel; they are more or less independent. Yet they are also harmonious, and that suggests their reliability as historical documents.
Another major evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the empty tomb. We might deny that an actual resurrection took place, but we can hardly deny that the tomb was empty. The disciples began soon after the crucifixion and burial to preach about the resurrection… according to John, the tomb was not quite empty, the body of Jesus was gone but the grave clothes remained behind.
Easter is an occasion which connect us with the New Covenant and with Christ. David in Psalm 118:24 saw the excellence of this day when he said “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it,” the threats, sufferings and pains of the crucifixion are now over with the ushering of the blessed message of hope: “He is not here, but is risen… It is the climax of Christianity which reminded us of the great and inestimable love of God, for it was while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Thus, all of Easter hangs on the testimony of the women of whom Jesus entrusted the entire gospel. Blessings to you all.
- Rev Vakaroto Ngaro, Ekalesia Avarua.
Cook Islands Christian Church services for all the branches in the country: Thursday 6pm this includes holy communion for everyone, Friday 10am with the focus on the crucifixion and burial, Sunday 10am with emphasis on the resurrection, Easter Monday each branch has their festive programmes.
Assembly of God
For Christ following believers, the events we celebrate during Easter are as fundamental to us, as the birth of Christ. While the origins of Easter are founded in pagan rituals dating back to the time of Noah, God, in His Justice and Mercy in the process of redeeming all of creation has also redeemed this weekend’s celebrations.
We celebrate the death, the sleep, and the resurrection of Christ. It was the scourging of his body, and the spilling of his blood culminating to his death on the cross, that was necessary for the forgiveness of our failings, the healing of our sicknesses and the redemption of all that was stolen.
His Death: Through Jesus death on the cross, God brought all of creation to a crossroad where he prepared a banquet for a divine exchange to take place. It was a sinless Christ who took our death and exchanged it for His everlasting life… And when the Son of God gave up his broken body, in total surrender to his heavenly Father, he made a way for countless broken men and women to come before Almighty God, crying out as restored sons and daughters, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”
His Sleep: As Jesus body lay in the tomb for 3 days, the Bible reveals that Jesus went into the spirit realm and preached salvation to the dead, and Peter somehow links this statement to Noah’s time.
His Resurrection: When Jesus rose from death, he gave to us a living hope. His resurrection screams his victory over sin and death, therefore death is not final. His resurrection is a promise to us, that we will live after death, because he lives. Now from this cross road, what will you choose?
– Paul Kauri.
Assembly of God Church services: Friday – Screening of Passion of The Christ 6pm at the Lighthouse AOG Church in Titikaveka, Sunday Services - Lighthouse Church - Titikaveka 10:30am, The Wave Church Ngatangiia 10:30am, ArePua Gateway Church Avarua – 10:30am, Arorangi 10am.
Seventh Day Adventist
The true meaning of Easter can be overshadowed by chocolate eggs, picnic baskets, and chocolate bunnies. Easter is an event celebrated to remember the death, and resurrection of Jesus. John 3:16 says … For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For Christians the death and resurrection of Jesus symbolizes hope that extends to eternity. The following are reflections from young adults on what Easter means personally for them...
"As a kid, Easter for me was a time for family reunions and endless movie marathons including the Resurrection of Christ. But as I get to know Christ, Easter gets to have a deeper meaning - it has been the greatest act and definition of love for humanity. Easter gives hope, a time to celebrate our Saviour and to reflect on all His awesome wonders." - 26 year old.
"I was baptized during Easter weekend so it feels like the anniversary of my salvation. Easter for me is a reminder of the Lord's unconditional love for us. He chose to love, save and forgive us with our sins, sacrificed His son for us on the cross. It reminds me of the greatest standard set for love - unconditional, faithful, forgiving. Let us love the Lord our God and each other just as He loved us." -30 year old.
"What is Easter for me? Easter is a celebration of God’s love. Without the resurrection of Jesus, my faith is pointless. It reminds of how wonderful and loving our God is." - 30 year old.
"Easter for me is a confirmation that God is alive; in Him, there is new life and hope." - 25 year old.
"Easter always reminds me that God had so much love for us that he stepped down from his throne and walked among us to save us. At the same time, he had the power and might to conquer sin and death and ascend back to His rightful place. He just proves that He is mighty and full of love and grace and above all, faithful to His promises." - 28 year old. So what does Easter mean for you?
– Eric Toleafoa.
Seventh Day Adventist services: Friday - Vespers Service 7pm, Saturday Sabbath School 9:30am, Divine Service 11am to 12 noon, Youth 5pm to 6pm.
From death to Life forever. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it dies, it bringeth forth much fruit” – John 12: 24.
Jesus points his death and resurrection to that of a natural seed that falls and die, yet after dying springs back to life such is his Resurrection for the salvation of all mankind. All humans die because of their sin nature, but Christ died not that he had sinned, but he chose to die though without sin, but as a ransom for all of humanity, so that all who believe and live by him shall also rise as he rose from the dead unto life immortal and evermore with him.
Such is the joy, pleasure, meaning and significance of the Death and Resurrection of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ – to put an end to death in sin but offers a new beginning, a new resurrected life unto eternity with him. The Apostle Paul states in Romans 1:19, 20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”.
All of humanity are therefore, totally and absolutely without excuse not believing and knowing that there is a God of Creation, eternal life for those who believe and die in Jesus Christ but eternal damnation sadly and unfortunately for those who doubt and deny the Death and Resurrection of our Redeeming Saviour Jesus Christ. The beloved Apostle John in Revelation 21:4, 5 finally declares, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. Write: for these things are true and faithful.
Have a joyous and blessed Jesus’ Easter to all.
Amen - Bishop Tutai Pere of the Apostolic Church of the Cook Islands.
The Apostolic Church service - Sunday at 10am.