A Christmas Message from Archbishop Leonard Dawea, Anglican Church of Melanesia.
‘God bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to God’, Luke 19: 38.
A very merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year 2021 to you all. After the four weeks of waiting in Advent, we have entered into the joyous celebrations of the Christmas, the birth of Christ. We celebrate God taking on human form in Christ through the royal birth in a poor stable of Bethlehem. The royal birth was herald by strange events; some angels appeared and the glory of the Lord shone over the shepherds in splendour, a star appeared and three visitors came from the East to pay him homage. All these and other events in the gospel birth narratives caused both joy and fear, but through the birth of Christ, God’s plan for us is certain; the King has come to us in the name of the Lord. We, therefore, need not be afraid and uncertain, but in faith, hope and love receive our King.
The shepherds were told not to be afraid, we are told not to be afraid, we have a great good news; our Saviour is born to us today – He is Christ our Lord and King. The angels acclaim the new born King as the highest glory of God in heaven inaugurating peace (shalom) on earth. These are wonderful and majestic events of God’s connectedness to us and we to him. This connectedness assures us not to be afraid; but to be certain as Mary sings, my spirit is full of joy in God my Saviour’. Our Saviour was born to us today; our spirit rejoices in God our Saviour, though wrapped in strips of cloth, he is the glory of God herald on earth; giving us life, life in all its fullness, John 10: 10.
Let us highlight an area that keeps us uncertain. In our ambiguous world, there is huge urge to render greater focus on what we ourselves attach to the holy events of Christmas. Instead of the spiritual awaiting and praying on advent, the consumerism elements of our society has always overshadow us with commercial advertisements. It is what Paula Gooder, remarks as anticipating Christmas not in the sense of ‘looking forward’ but in the sense of ‘bringing it forward’, sometimes pushing us to begin celebrations earlier without thorough prior preparations. On the economic entrepreneurship front, such are viable marketing strategies, however, it makes Christians vulnerable to the enticing urge to deviate focus on the reality of preparedness for Christ’s birth.
The world is been gripped into uncertainty and fear. Clearly, this year has not been easy with the impacts of the COVID-19 and all the issues resonating from it. There is visible evidence of economic recession, international travel restrictions, multiple lockdowns, suspension or postponement of national and international programs, disruptions to education, just to name a few. In all these, while we anticipate communal or global response; it is important that our individual response ought to influence the whole. Christ’s birth and life must influence individual lives to impact the wider whole.
The birth of Christ, is the birth new life; new life that offers us new opportunities to see God and his plans for human salvation. The birth of Christ, therefore, ought to be given its due place in our hearts; we must observe its deep and fullest meaning for our own life. Despites the uncertainties of COVID-19 and all the global issues facing us, God is certain, making us certainly sure of his plans for our freedom and salvation. As we again welcome Christ as King of our live, we are not to be afraid.
‘Do not being afraid’ is an assurance of God’s presence through Christ in his Church. In the birth of Christ, the world over sees God working out human salvation. Salvation in the end times, but also freedom from the issues sharply counteracting our life and our mission to the world. This year, the world, as Prophet Isaiah proclaims, has been walking in darkness and living in the shadows, but in the birth of Christ, it shall see a great light; not only see it, but shinning on them as it shines on the shepherds on the holy night of the Saviour’s birth.
The birth of Christ marks God’s intervention into human nature; giving light to our path towards the Kingdom of God. It is time when God gives the world great joy and rejoicing through his saving grace and love. He does it so by emptying himself into our nature through his incarnation into human form; possessing the lowest in human structure and performing servants’ roles, yet royal and mighty. Our Saviour is born to us today; he is Emmanuel, God with us. He is with us regardless of what we are even in the midst of the dark situations the world continues to place heavily on us, our families, our Church, and our nation.
In the solemn event of the birth of Christ, God reaches out to all human race, either or not we realise it. He recreates the created order once tampered with by human weakness not long after man was created. During this Christmas we aspire living in the recreated order of life, despites the persistence of our weak nature as humans. Through the birth of Christ, God connects himself to us, giving light and life for us who crave salvation. As God connects himself to us, we in turn connect ourselves to each other, offering Christ to one another as the precious gift of God to us. Christ is God’s gift to the world graciously and freely given, but he needs a place in our lives.
Aled Jones, a Welsh soloist singer sang this beautiful words;
Poor as I am what can I give him
If I were a shepherd I would a lamb
If I were a wise man I would do my part
But poor as I am what can I give him
I will give him my heart
I wish everyone a blessed and joyful merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2021. Happy celebrations with care. Come Lord Jesus come, be born is us today!