By now, days to Easter, religious leaders would be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on their sermons. They would have reinforced the meaning of Pascha – the feast to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Outside the confines of churches, orders for food and drinks would have started streaming in. There would be scenes of goats being bought in preparation for nyama choma feasts, hotels getting ready, beaches being cleared for enthusiastic selfie-takers who want to show the virtual world of how much fun they are having during Easter.
Bus companies would have banked on the throngs of people travelling to spend the holiday in the countryside.
Then Covid-19 came and froze everything.
The streets that would have been lined by congregants carrying palm leaves to mark Palm Sunday were empty.
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The pulpits bear an eerie silence, a loud reminder that the world is at a standstill.
Hotels have placed padlocks on their gates and social places have been abandoned as reminders to stay home and keep a distance dominate conversations online and off the net.
Religion is marking unprecedented times. Never in recent history have Christians remained indoors and not participated in Holy Communion on a day whose existence is pegged on feasting and coming together.
“This is a spiritual attack. Church happens when people gather, and there are people who feel that something is amiss if they do not take the sacrament. We have to keep safe and stop gathering but it is difficult,” said ACK Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit.
He added that they are now planning their Easter sermons online, through social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter.
“I have talked with the bishops to use technology to preach on Good Friday and Easter Sunday,” he says.
Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria says they will also have live-streamed services, and this season, they will be preaching about celebrating family love.
“Easter is a moment of hope and celebration of victory of love over death, and light over darkness. When we have the dark clouds of corona hanging over us, we encourage people to celebrate family love, and offer each other the gift of smiles and service,” says Muheria.
His sentiments are shared by Christ Is the Answer Ministries Bishop David Oginde who says in these times of uncertainty, people should do some self-reflection and build on having a personal relationship with God.
“People are used to doing group worship without reassessing their personal relationship with God. They depend on group faith. Now they are being tested and they need to find God on a personal level,” says Oginde.
Even as they cling on technology, Sapit says coronavirus has awakened the reality that even science and the economy that has always offered comfort to the masses can crumble.
“Countries that have always depended on their science, military and strong economy to keep them together are feeling the crack. Let us use this Easter to go back to God. Easter is a time of salvation. Let us ask God to save us from coronavirus,” says Sapit.
Muheria says that it is becoming apparent that material wealth cannot insulate humanity; and that people had reached a point where they were mocking God and feeling sufficient.
“My hope this Easter is that we’ll seek true friendship to replace the artificial virtual world we started to construct around ourselves,” he says.
For many people, this will be a season of making readjustments, in their budget, how to spend time, and their plans for the future.
Betty Ijanga wrote on social media about the plans she had made with her husband. They were supposed to go for their wedding anniversary in Malaysia during the Easter holiday, but they have now had to reschedule it indefinitely.
All over the world, people are waiting. For God, for science, for anything that will bring them a sense of normalcy and replace the anxiety that has engulfed the world.