By Kayode Ketefe
Today is Christmas Day! Christmas is one of the greatest festivals on earth. The 25th day of December every year is a date conventionally set apart by Christians to commemorate the nativity- i.e. the birth of Jesus Christ, acknowledged as the Messiah of the world in Christian theology.
Even though Bible scholars and theologians disagree on the actual day Christ was born and neither was there consensus on whether the date could be precisely put at about 2013 years ago, this does not detract a jot from the significance of the wondrous birth. Christ’s sojourn in this earthly realm remains epochal, being the widely acknowledged single most important event in Man/God relations. An event such as the birth of the Messiah of mankind, therefore justifiably calls for reflective commemoration, amidst all the pomp and pageantry.
The story of nativity is the best story ever told; it signifies the full manifestation of God Almighty’s infinite mercy and unconditional love to his best creature- the mortal man. Shortly after the humanity fell in the Garden of Eden, man came under, the ineluctable fate of eternal damnation but with the birth of Jesus Christ, God manifested his sublime love by commissioning a divine mission that would ultimately redeem mankind from this ordained peril.
Christ’s life, from Annunciation to resurrection, constitutes a divine plot for the vicarious atonement that ultimately fetches man salvation through the divine grace.
But today, the lessons of the essence of Christ’s sojourn, which he himself amplified through his teachings, seems to have been thrown overboard in many churches as people are firmly ensconced in worldliness and materialism. Yet the King of Kings lived exemplary life, making every single second count purposefully towards the accomplishment of his earthly mission; he was a paragon of spiritual excellence.
There was a remarkable synch in the teachings of Jesus and his lifestyle. His message was rendered in simple language accessible to all intended hearers and even when he spoke in parables to convey graphic image and metaphors, he would often render the full meaning of the parables so that no one was lost.
The central themes of his homiletics, rendered with compelling exegetical precision, were often the virtues of love, forbearance, humility, goodness and godliness. Conversely many preachers today lack these basic virtues, some of them would make even the peacock green with envy with their imperious utterances gushing out from fountains of pride they call their minds.
The top members of the political class in Nigeria are fond of spraying out goodwill messages on occasions such as Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year Day but it is trite that if a sizeable number of these political actors would allow the fear of God and the love of Christ to guide them, much of the anti-people policies would not be conceived let alone being implemented; the culture of massive looting of the public treasury would not be entrenched and these leaders would not be too engrossed in political dalliance to feel concern for the masses despairing for just the basic thing of life.
How good would it be if we all strive to allow the essence of Christ’s mission to percolate our spirits and reflect in our lives! This would foster greater mutual understanding, harmonious co-existence, peace and progress, which are vital missing ethics among us.
Furthermore, as sublime as the significance of the birth of Christ is, the commemoration of this historical event every December 25 has been so intertwined into human culture that its real essence has been overshadowed by unbridled worldliness.
Many people engage in foolish, stupid, wicked, vainglorious etc activities that have nothing to do, nay, antithetical to the pristine spirit of Christmas. Yet, they claim to be remembering (and honouring!) the greatest teacher of mankind through such reprehensible behaviours.
The number of people that uses the time for spiritual re-awakening and meditative reunion with their maker is minimal compared to those who see it as an annual hedonistic ritual for reckless bingeing, partying, lewd indulgences and prurient socialising.
Many youngsters and adolescents believe Christmas gives them the opportunity to give unrestrained catharsis to their youthful exuberance, expressed among other eccentricities, through mass and ubiquitous deployment of celebratory fireworks and bangers, which often constitutes the nuisance of noise pollution.
Many adults would go to the extent of incurring debts in order to share in the mass ecstasy of the celebration only to succumb to the regrets and depression of impecuniosity afterwards when the euphoria of festivity wears off.
Unscrupulous elements engage in all forms of criminality to get proceeds to be used in celebrating Christmas and New Year Day! Church attendance on such days, to others, is nothing but an occasion to show off their wealth (either real or affected) through flamboyant clothes and expensive ornamentation.
In the light of these numerous human foibles and vices being routinely perpetrated annually during Christmas period, it would be appropriate to say many people are still missing the points why Jesus Christ came to the world!
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