TV, radio, online services keep Christians busy on Palm Sunday

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Tope Templer Olaiya, Isaac Taiwo and Sunday Aikulola

In the year of COVD-19 pandemic, the 2020AD year of our Lord, it came to pass that Palm Sunday celebrations took a different turn. In the city of Lagos, the streets were devoid of the usual sights of donkeys and a long procession of worshippers with palm fronds, singing Hosanna in the highest… Blessed is the one that comes in the name of the Lord… and All the way to Calvary He went for me.

Instead of the regular frills that accompany Palm Sunday, which ushers in the Passion Week, it was as expected a quiet Day Six of the lockdown as announced by the federal government last week as Christian faithful hooked on to their mobile gadgets, television sets and radio to observe their Sunday worship service as churches streamed their services online.

This is the week that takes Christian faithful back to Jesus’ last week on earth starting with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, then his betrayal, crucifixion on the cross, death and eventual resurrection.

Yesterday, Pope Francis called on the over one billon Catholic faithful across the world in his Palm Sunday sermon to reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need during the coronavirus pandemic. The pontiff delivered his message inside an empty St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican in Rome, broadcasting it over the internet to churches across the world.

The lockdown is expected to last another week barring any changes. This means as it was yesterday, so it will be this weekend during Good Friday, Easter Sunday (Resurrection Morning) celebrations. There still won’t be any religious gathering to mark the resurrection of Christ, no thanks to the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.

But in the circumstances of the times, Lagos residents yesterday turned to their television sets and mobile phones to hook up with church services broadcast on television and online. Almost all churches in Lagos were deserted and under lock, signalling the reality of dire times.

A few residents who spoke with The Guardian said they observed their 8:30 a.m. Mass on Lumen Christi channel 350 on DSTV while their palms were also blessed by the priest on the screen as Christ symbolically rode into Jerusalem, marking the beginning of Passion of Christ.

Others also hooked up on other church channels like Dove TV of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Emmanuel TV of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, and a few other churches that were featured on the local television stations.

One Ajoke Ibironke said: “We have gotten used to it since last week. We had our church’s holy communion last Thursday and monthly Holy Ghost service on Friday via Dove TV and there was no need to congregate anywhere as we watched while our Daddy GO ministered to us live, but I still miss the physical worship at the church so badly and nothing can take the place of a physical gathering. Since this pandemic is about life and health, we have no choice than to support the government’s effort in containing the virus. This year will surely go down in history as an unforgettable era.”
Another worshipper, David Silas, said the Catholic church’s tradition remains same forever. “No amount of fear will stop Christ manifesting Himself as the saviour of the world. We watched as Pope Francis gave his sermon and blessed on. We are still going to do the same next week during Easter.”

A member of the Deeper Life Bible Church, who decided to remain anonymous, said the pastor of their local church issued an instruction that no one should report to the church but rather hold their services in their homes.

“We were told that in obedience to the government’s instruction, we should all stay in our houses and listen to the General Superintendent’s messages that would either be transmitted on radio as well as Youtube and Facebook, while we were given the various FM stations to hook on to for Pastor Kumuyi’s messages on Monday, Thursday and Sunday.

“In obedience to that, my family did just that as we came together this morning to hold the service with my wife taking the Sunday School teaching known as Search The Scriptures while I stood in the position of the pastor to direct the service. My Children also did the singing while at the appropriate time, we hooked on to the YouTube to listen to Pastor Kumuyi and it was all interesting and enjoyable,” he said.


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