“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.’” (Matthew 28.5)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I greet you all in the name of our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ!
Easter 2020 is a very unique Easter. We have never had an Easter like this where we cannot gather together to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. At the same time, we extend our sympathies to those who have lost their dear ones, both in Uganda and outside Uganda. We especially extend our condolences to the thousands of families around the world who have lost family members to COVID-19 and stand in prayer with those who are still struggling to recover.
It was only five weeks ago that I was installed as the 9th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. I want to sincerely appreciate the Chair of the Organizing Committee, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, and her entire team who worked tirelessly to bring us together to seek God’s blessing for this next season in the life of our church. I also want to appreciate all the Bishops of the Church of Uganda and the Christians for their sacrificial support, as well as the many businesses who made contributions. Finally, to His Excellency, the President of Uganda, we extend heartfelt thanks for your support that has enabled the church to be a strong development partner with the government.
During this extraordinary season, we especially appreciate the President and government’s efforts to keep Ugandans safe and well. Yes, our lives have been significantly disrupted by the closures of churches, schools, and businesses, the restrictions on movement, and the nighttime curfew. Nevertheless, we encourage all Ugandans to obey the President’s directives so together we can defeat COVID-19. We also appeal to the security organs in the country to enforce the restrictions respectfully; please do not beat your fellow Ugandans as if they were animals.
In the midst of these challenges, we appreciate the government’s efforts to distribute food to those directly impacted by the lockdown. It’s a difficult exercise and the food may not reach everyone who really needs it. As this is Easter season, however, we call upon Ugandans to do what we normally do and share the little you have with others, especially the disabled and the orphans and widows in our communities.
We are extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health and the entire medical community who continue caring for us in our normal sicknesses and have sacrificially extended themselves to respond to the current health crisis. We also appeal to the government to increase the supply of face masks, gloves, and other protective gear to all the healthcare workers around the country. We need them to stay healthy so they can care for us.
We also want to sincerely appreciate all the media houses during this trying time. They have risen to the challenge of keeping us all informed of what is happening on a daily basis, not only in Uganda but around the world. We are especially grateful for them availing airtime on radio and TV for the church to successfully offer “Worship from Home.” We could not do this without them, and we are very, very happy. This is an example of what it means for all of us to come together to defeat this virus.
It also reminds us of one of the core messages of my Charge, which is the need for a Church of Uganda TV station. Let us thank God that one of the blessings of these challenging days is that we have clearly seen the need for our own TV station, and I appeal to all stakeholders to work with us to see that vision come true. We have already seen the blessing of Church-owned radio stations in the few regions that have them. I want to encourage the development of more Church-owned regional radio stations, as well. There is need for both TV and radio.
I also want to encourage each one of us to use social media responsibly and in a God-honouring way. Before you forward something, please verify whether or not it is true. Do not circulate gossip or fake news. Let’s use social media to encourage one another with the good news of Easter – that Jesus is alive. He has conquered sin and death, and he set us free to build up and encourage one another in following the way of Jesus.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the account of Jesus’ resurrection includes two times when it was said, “Do not be afraid.” First, the angel tells the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Then, just in case the women did not believe the angel, Jesus himself appears to them and says it again, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Many people right now are afraid. Apart from the coronavirus, we have our fears about how to find money for school fees and food; we fear our job security; we still have concerns about politics and the upcoming elections; churches are fearing where their income will come from when Christians are not allowed to gather on Sundays. And, now, we also have fears because of the return of the locusts in northern Uganda, Karamoja, and Teso.
These fears are like stones in our heart. The Lord said to the women who went to the tomb looking for Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” He’s saying the same thing to us today: “Do not be afraid.” Let the stones of fear in your life be rolled away. Jesus is alive, and because he lives, we can face tomorrow.
Finally, I am calling all dioceses and churches in the entire Church of Uganda to plan for a massive General Thanksgiving the first Sunday after the restriction for gathering in public worship is lifted. When that day comes – and, I am sure that it WILL come – we must all come together to thank God for what He has done.
We want to assure all Ugandans during this unique Easter 2020 season that we are praying for you.
We are praying especially for His Excellency, the President, and his dear wife, Mama Janet, as they lead us through this challenging season.
We pray for all members of the Judiciary and Parliament.
We pray especially for our leaders in the Ministry of Health, all the doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals.
We pray also for the police and UPDF personnel and all working in the security organs of our beloved country.
We pray for God’s protection and favour on all businesses, especially those that have been affected by the lockdown.
We pray for all Ugandans who will be affected by the return of the locusts, especially those in northern Uganda, Karamoja, and Teso.
We pray for all families to return to Jesus and to let him be at the centre of their marriages and relationships with their children and grandchildren.
Finally, we pray for all religious leaders in the country to continue working together to bring the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection to every man, woman, and child in this country.
May the Lord bless you and keep you during this unique Easter 2020 – in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Yours, in Christ,
The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba
Archbishop of the Church of Uganda