Three days to Christmas, Christian leaders across the country have been sending encouraging words to believers in Christ.
Specifically, to convey the news of the great joy associated with Christ birth; and to emphasise that the joy which the gift of Christ bring is not realisable by worldly standards.
In a way, their messages took cognisance of the challenges, which the current hardship in the country poses on the spiritual and material lives of believers.
However, they are very clear the joy of Christ’s coming is only realisable in a somewhat transcendent state that is defined only by faithfulness to God, in whom is full and true satisfaction. Below are some of the messages:
Catholic Archbishop Adewale Martins
“When the angel of glad tidings declared that at last a Saviour had been born, it used a title that suggested the one able to deliver, to save, to comfort and to shield. Mary’s born child was the One sent by God to be this Saviour of humanity. “He had not come to save men from their political problems, but from their most personal problem their sin.
Joseph was instructed to call His name Jesus for He was the One to save His people from their sins.” The news was one that naturally would stir up joy in the world that needed all that the saviour brings.
“I bring you news of great joy…” is a phrase that resounds unto eternity for all men and women that believe in who Christ really is and in what Christ offers. The joy that the coming of Jesus offers us does not fade in the face of the vicissitudes of life. Even at the saddest moment of life we have the fullest of it. It comes in the form of that inner serenity that overwhelms our spirit when we go through experiences that are enough to cause others to commit suicide; it comes in the form of our ability to see some reason to smile and forge ahead in life even when we are not having the best of our marriages; it comes when we or our loved ones are sick, yet we know that we are not alone; when our children grope in failure, yet we know that such is only momentary; when our marriages are struck by barrenness unto old age and we come to understand that there is more to the blessing of marriage than childbirth.
In his first epistle, St. Peter warns us not to be consumed by the fiery ordeals that we experience in life, for they are meant to test us. Instead, he calls us to rejoice, insofar as we are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that we may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed”
He warns that if some Christians fail to experience the superior joy that Christ brings at Christmas, “it would be because they make the mistake of associating it with human or earthly success.”
The Diocesan Bishop of Anglican Communion, Lagos
Dr Humphrey Olumakaiye reminds all that Christmas is a season that brings joy to humanity at its peak to all mankind.
“Christmas Season is a unique one that brings us to the consciousness of the peace that Christ brought to us as individuals, family, nation and congregation of believers. It reminds us of how Christ brought us out of darkness into God’s marvelous light; which make us co-heirs with Him, he said.
Dr. Olumakaiye, however, noted that within the Nation, “we see continuing raids and attacks, loss of lives and many things looking so unsettled while a lot of people are starving.
“In some places, people are crowded in refugee camps that lack a simple basic human need – like portable drinking water. Thousands of people have little hope for the future.
“Perhaps as individuals, this year has been one of the most difficult years with several challenges that have mocked the song of Peace on earth and goodwill to all men.”
He advised everyone to bear in mind that, it is into this world of fear, danger and uncertainty that God sent his peace to us through His son, Jesus Christ.
“Yes, the coming of the Prince of Peace did not end wars and rumours of wars, but we are very sure that it did make possible the most basic peace that we need, the peace that is beyond all understanding – peace with God through Christ,” Olumakaiye pointed out
He added: “Beloved, may I tell you that we cannot even hope to live in a world of Peace, a family of peace or a nation of peace, unless we are at peace with God. That is why He sent His Son Jesus.
“When you have this peace, you will not be selfish. You will think of the peace of the other person and do all to make others live in peace. This peace comes with God’s wisdom. It is directly linked with the Spirit of God. And where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.
“We need the true peace in our Nation; the peace that comes from doing the will of God; the peace that comes from detesting corruption and embracing integrity.”
“As we celebrate Christmas, may your hearts and homes be filled with the true peace that this season brings, may all of us have this peace and make our dear Nation a better place. Nothing will be able to deflate our peace,” the Bishop prayed.
General Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Bible Society of Nigeria, Dr. Dare Ajiboye
“I know we have divergent views as Christians when it comes to Christmas. Some tag it as a ritual while some embrace it. For me, my school of thought is that those views can be right, he said.
He, however, added that those don’t celebrate Christmas shouldn’t condemn those that do and visa vise.
“We should remember the purpose of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Matt 1:25 that she will give birth to a son called Jesus Christ and he will save people from their sins. The purpose of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is to come to us.
“Any celebration you want to do should revolve around God and heaven, if you are rejoicing and buying things. It should be that you are saved; it should be that you are reaching out to those who are not yet saved. So that they can accept Christ into their life,” he further said.
Dr. Ajiboye also warned; “But if your celebration is about drinking alcohol and recklessly womanizing, then you are not celebrating Christmas, you are celebrating doom. So I will encourage non-Christians not to see Christmas as an opportunity to sin and Christians not to see it as occasion to merry, drink, and wear new clothes but to make sure that we make heaven at last. If your celebration is not in line with making heaven then you are outside the reason for Christmas.”
“As you celebrate, it is not an occasion to commit sin but an occasion to be sober and remember that somebody came to this world to die for us and suffered for us. If that is the mood you are celebrating then please continue and God bless you,” he added.