The Rt. Rev. Abiodun Ogunyemi, Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Damaturu has charged Anglican Priests to be humble and live as Christ did. He gave this charge during the Maundy Thursday Service of Holy Communion, washing of feet and blessing of oil held at the Chapel of the Advent, Primate’s office, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.
Bishop Ogunyemi, who represented the Primate of all Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh explained that one must be humble to receive God’s blessings, because all that a person has is got by the grace and mercy of God. He said that just like Jesus humbled Himself to wash the feet of His disciples, Priests are expected to do likewise to their Parishioners. According to him, Priests are the entry room of the Church and without them the Church will die. Therefore, he said that it is important that they understand the significance of the Maundy Thursday.
The Bishop of Damaturu went further by calling on Clerics to stop hating one another, stating that the greatest enemy of anyone or thing is itself. He emphasized that every Priest was created different, with varied gifts and ministry that should be used for the edification of the Church. Thus, he charged them to discover their God given gifts, which he said will prevent envy and enable them to be encouragers of others in the vineyard. He said that the Church will grow if ministers of the gospel celebrate and encourage each other’s gift.
Speaking on the Passover meal or Holy Communion as it is known today, the Cleric pointed out that its significance can be understood fully from the Old Testament (OT) book of Exodus. He said that many teach the opposite, but that Jesus kept the OT law in a different way, revealing that it still had a place in the New Testament (NT). He explained that in the OT, the blood of animals was used for deliverance and forgiveness of sins; while in the NT, the blood of Jesus replaced that of animals. He mentioned that some people come for Communion without understanding its implications, because they have become so used to attending Church that they have lost respect for her. According to him, they have taken the Communion so much that they have begun to take it for granted. Therefore, Bishop Ogunyemi continued his sermon by highlighting the significance of the body and blood of Christ that is taken during a Communion Service.
The Bishop said that when a person takes Communion he or she is passed from death to life; therefore, it is often called a celebration Service. He added that it is also a Service of deliverance from bondage, just like the Israelites who were delivered from the Egyptians and a celebration of righteousness, which is why the Bible charges believers to always take the Communion with a pure heart. Bishop Ogunyemi further described it as a Service of judgment upon the enemies of God and a Service of thanksgiving in appreciation to God for giving His Son, Jesus Christ to save mankind. The Cleric summarized that the Communion is a renewal of covenant, wherein believers receive strength and energy to do the work of God.
The Rt. Rev. Abiodun Ogunyemi concluded his message by sharing personal testimonies of how God granted him victory over the works of the enemy, stressing that there is power in the blood of Jesus. He said that demons are real, but powerless, adding that only Jesus can save any man. Bishop Ogunyemi warned that our leaders must be careful, because any country that promotes or harbors people who are against God will be in trouble. Hence, he called on all to do away with what he referred to as, “theological arrogance” and accept the word of God like a child so that it will be effective in their lives.
Highlights of the Service was the washing of feet of all those present, the blessing of oil, the sharing of Communion and the thanksgiving offering. Present at the Service were the Priests of the Diocese of Abuja, some Diocesan officials, members of staff at the Episcopal House, ACNN, and some parishioners of the Diocese of Abuja. The service was well attended, with guests also seated at the office car park.