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Christmas brings joy, but the world creates conflict

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19.DEC.08

Christmas Message from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council – 2008
Major Henry King, President; Rev. Victor H. Job, Vice President; Rt. Rev. C. Leopold Friday and Fr. Pio Atonio

The Story of the first Christmas is filled with joy, love, peace, light and fulfillment – Jesus is the light in the darkness and fulfillment of God’s promise and ancient Israel’s yearning. He is the joy amidst the sorrow, the love amidst the hatred and the peace amidst the conflict. Today, the Christian Council wishes to share with you the joy that comes to us through the first Christmas Story.{{more}}

We hear the sound of joy most emphatically in Luke’s story of the first Christmas. The angelic message to the shepherds in the gospel according to Luke is filled with joy. “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…” and then “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’”

However, the story of the first Christmas is not only filled with joy, but also with the theme of conflict. In the Gospel according to Matthew, this is quite evident, for we are told of Herod’s plot to kill Jesus. It speaks of the forceful resistance of the evil powers of this world to the coming Kingdom of God. Christmas brings joy, but the world creates conflict. It was so at the first Christmas, and it continues now.

We tend to focus only on the joy of Christmas, as we are heavily influenced by the society in which we live. We get so caught up in the commercialization of Christmas – the buying of gifts and other goodies and the various activities that precede the season of Christmas – that it has become for many solely a time of joy and celebration.

Christmas calls us to reflect on our lives and our relationship with God. As Christians, we are to represent Christ to the world and the truth is we are hindered by our sins. Consequently, there is the need to have a period of preparation before we begin to celebrate Christmas. To do this may put us in conflict with many in our society, but that’s what happened to Jesus when he came. The Christmas message does not call us to piously evade conflict, but to face it and commit ourselves to working for and promoting its peaceful resolution.

Christmas also speaks of the coming of Jesus Christ to enable us to transform the world, to promote peace and goodwill and to appropriate kingdom values. Repentance should be our starting point. This means more than just being sorry for one’s sins and seeking forgiveness. Rather, it speaks of turning to God, going to that place where God’s presence is. It is acknowledging the ways in which we have turned away from God, in what we have done or failed to do, in all aspects of our lives spiritually, economically, socially, politically, individually, and corporately; and by the grace of God seek pardon, forgiveness and transformation. This is why the Church provides us with the Season of Advent which is the four weeks before the Christmas season as a period of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas and beyond.

It is imperative that as we seek to address the many challenges that face us as a nation that we do so by being conscious of God in our midst, always acknowledging his supremacy over us. Therefore, let us not reduce the Season of Christmas to a civil festival. Rather, let us focus on the central message – that God came into the world in Jesus Christ His Son to save us and to make this world a better place for us. May we humbly submit ourselves and co-operate with God in bringing about the world promised by the Christmas Story.

May the joy, love, and peace that the Angels proclaimed at the First Christmas be yours today. A blessed Christmas Season to you all!

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