Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, there are lots of festivities, celebrations, merriments, dinners, parties, family gatherings and exchange of gifts.
Visits to prisons and special events in which the less fortunate, sick and shut-ins, those in senior citizens homes, and children receive meals and gifts, and there is an increase in commercial activity, as many take the opportunity offered through extended opening hours to shop for various commodities to ensure that they and others have an enjoyable and happy Christmas season.
In addition, there are various choirs and groups who sing carols not forgetting those who create local songs and parang and radio and television stations promoting the festive season through their various Christmas programmes. There is the lighting up of several villages and communities across the nation, nine mornings and nine nights. No one can say that they are not aware that it is Christmas time.
On the evening of Christmas eve or Christmas Day the various Churches in our land have services to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ lustily singing hymns and carols, reading the scriptures, praying and proclaiming the word and in some cases celebrating the Holy Mass (Holy Eucharist). Churches are beautifully decorated with flowers, other ornaments and the Christmas Crib. It surely is a joyous occasion which we all look forward to every year.
In the midst of all this are we aware that Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven: “Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Are we conscious that this is what Christmas is about? All the festivities, activities, events, celebrations and other things mentioned above have their rightful place in celebrating Christmas.
The question is have we become so preoccupied with these that we are clouding out a deeper truth that lies below the surface? Christmas truly is a joyful occasion as we celebrate the birth of Christ, he is the prince of peace and he came to save his people from their sins and to offer us all a new life with God. However, we cannot afford to get lost in the celebrations that we miss the true and full import of the coming of Christ.
The message of Christ and Christmas is about hope, love, togetherness, think of the level of polarization of our society into basically two groups, where one can be easily classified as playing politics or belonging to one or the other simply because one differs in opinion on a particular policy, programme or activity.
How has this polarization affected institutions and organisations in our beloved land? The road ahead as we continue to respond to the Corona Virus and its adverse impact on the social, economic, emotional and psychological makeup and health of our nation calls for initiatives that require us to work together as a people to take us through this tough and trying period of our life as a nation.
History has shown that the work of the Labour Movement, Public Service, Private Sector, Youth groups, the Church along with social and cultural groups and sport clubs have assisted tremendously in the transformation of our society towards a better way of life for the people of this nation. We cannot deny the importance of building strong institutions, groups/clubs and community organisations which work together for the sustainable growth, development and wellbeing of our nation. It is an eternal truth that we achieve more working together than fractured and divisive. As a people and a nation, by the grace of God we need to learn to speak the truth in love, and to be mature, honest and conciliatory in our disagreements.
At Christmas great emphasis is placed on ensuring that the poor and less fortunate have a meal, a gift and that they are a little more comfortable than usual. This has its place, however, generally speaking, are we reflecting on the ways in which we individually and collectively contribute towards their present condition of life, and are we prepared to make the necessary change or transition in our lives, and work to create a better life for them, and all citizens of this land?
Christmas calls us to pause, to reflect on our lives. In a world where everything tends to be quick paced pausing can be easily considered to mean that we are wasting time or not taking charge or control of a situation. In holy scripture pausing or waiting is to be aware of what is happening around us and discerning the right time to act, respond and the approach we ought to take. The practice of pausing consistently compels or forces us to take a comprehensive look at our lives as disciples of Christ and the world around us more regularly than we often would otherwise.
This regular exercise gives us an opportunity to think critically about our lives, and the world around us, to reflect on our recent successes or failures and lay out the vexing or troubling questions or concerns that are pressing on our minds.
This will lead us not to simply evaluate the issues as they are stated, but we’ll carefully dig deeper to make sure there’s not a risk, a bigger problem or something of greater value lying beneath the surface that needs to be addressed or taken into consideration. Without taking the time to pause, however, and identify the key issues to explore in our lives as a people and nation, we’d be ill prepared to fully explore and resolve these issues and to appreciate the significance of the coming of Christ and the Kingdom of heaven.
This Christmas may the prince of peace rule and direct our hearts unto wisdom that we may celebrate with great joy the birth of Christ and be renewed by his grace and love that we may so work together as a people and nation to the honour and glory of God.
The SVG Christian Council takes this opportunity to wish you all a Blessed Christmas.