Christians in Nigeria today joined their counterparts all over the world to celebrate Palm Sunday amidst the global shut down occasioned by the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the holy week as it symbolizes the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem ahead of his cruxification on Good Friday.
The Palm Sunday is usually characterized with processions among Christians who hold out palms amidst songs of hosanna in the highest in re-enactment of the steps under taken by Jesus Christ on His way to the Cross.
But this year’s celebration of the Palm Sunday was bereft of the usual procession in compliance with the federal government’s directives against any form of public gathering and in observance of the social distancing which are measures adopted to curtail and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
It was against this backdrop that Christians of various denominations avoided celebration of church services this Sunday just as many church leaders resorted to telecasting via radio and televisions to reach their members.
While the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) celebrated Sunday service via the Dove TV channel on DSTV, the catholic faith hocked on to Lumen Christi. The Deeper Life Church had a special arrangement with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) which enabled it to broadcast to members for a two hour church service.
Speaking in a televised church service which was aired on the African Independent Television (AIT), the Archbishop of Abuja His Eminence, the Most Rev. (Dr) Ignatius Kaigama enjoined christians all over the world to pray for peace and unity saying that the world is been confronted with a perilous times which demand spiritual intervention.
Archbishop Kaigama who was particular on Nigeria appealed to both federal and state governments to intensify efforts at ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians within the period of the lockdown.
The Archbishop who celebrated mass at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral Garki, Abuja said “the church does not have much to give in terms of money but enough to give in terms of blessing. Don’t worry, be hopeful. This is the period of unity and not discrimination”.
Wanting to lead by example in terms of arms giving, the Bishop directed that materials and money which he had been conserving since the last Christmas which were intended to be channeled towards the development of the Pro Cathedral be distributed to the poor and the needy.
“The church is for the living. The people constitute the Cathedral. I also challenge the society of St Vincent de Paul to reach out to the poor and needy. I challenge the government to care for the people the more at a time like this”, he said.
The Bishop who said that he had looked forward to his first Holy Week and Easter Sunday mass celebrations as bishop of Abuja prayed to God provide cure for the coronavirus as to enable the world return back to normalcy.
The Palm Sunday church service at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral Garki, Abuja was conducted amidst an empty church except for a handful of reverend sisters, five priests who assisted the bishop, four members of the choir who played the organ and other instruments and a cluster of newsmen who covered the proceedings.
“This is a private mass; this is a family mass as only people who live in this compound attended. But I thank members of the media who have helped us to broadcast to the people” Archbishop Kaigama concluded in the church service which lasted for not more than one and half hours.
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