Monday, December 29, 2008

Is this Christmas?

MERRIMENT and excessive living have taken over the essence of Christmas. The manner of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to save mankind, according to the Christian doctrine, turns the reason for the season upside down. Nigerians dedicate most of December to the celebrations. The noise envelops the message of the season — God’s abiding love for mankind, manifested in sending His Son to die for a world that celebrates sins against God and against itself.

Thoughts of God’s love are hardly associated with this season of excesses. The worldly celebrations of Christmas are steadily eroding its religious content. Frauds, greed, selfishness, drunkenness, immorality have been elevated to the reason for the season. Those who excel in these boast about their ingenuity.

More pains are inflicted on people through Christmas — the road accidents, the broken hearts, the split family and national resources that are wasted in promoting an affair that started in the poorest parts of Bethlehem, in a manger.

Jesus Christ, who we are celebrating, was born in dreary surroundings with animals because his poor parents could not afford a better place in a crowded city that was bustling with its people, who had returned to be counted in a census.

Any show of poverty this season is not for Nigerians. They have gone to great lengths, against any economic logic, to acquire new cars, new clothes, bigger country homes (that would be the abode of rodents after the festivities). These achievements are announced nosily for effect. The ordinary people look on in wonder. Is this Christmas?

The rich and mighty would send Christmas messages to themselves. Our leaders would regurgitate the message of Christmas on their way to merriment while workers' salaries are not paid. Some pensioners — old people, who have given their youth to this country — missed making it to this Christmas, as they died queuing for their pittance. They hardly get paid.

Christmas presents a great opportunity to explore God’s unfailing love. We should also think about those who our national policies hurt the most. Jesus Christ, who we are celebrating, cared for the poor all the days of his life.

It was not a show to be put on and off at certain times of the year. Caring for the needy, the challenged, the disadvantaged, the poor, the weak, the sick, the oppressed, the widows, the orphans is not about photo opportunities. It is a life long commitment that should endure after the season.

Please spare a thought for the ordinary Nigerian beyond the season. Life is getting tougher by the day. Ordinary Nigerians watch as the opportunities elude them due to the selfishness of those who want everything for themselves.

This definitely is not the spirit of the season. As you celebrate, do something to spread the joy.

Merry Christmas Nigerians!