Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What kind of Christmas?

TO many Nigerians, the Christmas period is a season of celebrations when loved ones reunite, communities engage in cultural activities and festivities, families remember their dead by means of memorial services, and many intending couples fix their marriage solemnisations in order to attract high turn-out. This is also a period when people catch a physical glimpse of old friends who they have not seen for quite a while and exchange of gifts, cook-outs, barbeques, etc mark such gatherings and reunions. In the spirit of the seasons, people go out of their way to do some home makeover, do shopping for new clothes, adorn their houses and surroundings with Christmas trees and lights, and literally burn out every savings they have made since the year began.

This is also a period of high social events like coronation ceremonies and chieftaincy conferment while money hunts in form of launchings/fund raising for different projects take the centre stage. Communities especially in the part of Igboland where I come from, revive their age-long cultural festivals like the Ekpe and Ikoro dances. In the midst of these celebrations, people find time as well to indulge in orgies and moral recklessness thereby leaving in the wake of the New Year, a high incidence of unwanted pregnancies and contraction of deadly diseases like the dreaded HIV/AIDS. In the name of this season, people engage in many nefarious activities just to be like others in terms of materialism hence, increased cases of armed robbery, abduction, burglary, fraud and all forms of petty thieving simply because, everybody wants to celebrate the season as a 'big boy' or a 'big chick'. Most of the owners of flashy cars that will adorn the roads this season do not have any visible means of livelihood and one wonders where the proceeds came from. Most of the girls that will get pregnant will not even be able to tell the actual paternity of their unborn babies because it was difficult to keep count of partners in the fun-crime.

At this juncture, it will be pertinent to ask: are all these done in the spirit of Christmas? If so, what then is the meaning of Christmas? It is heart-rending to see that Christmas has been so bastardised that it has almost lost its original essence. We rather see Christmas as a season of the year rather than the birth of the Messiah that it is. We celebrate with utmost ignorance of the reason for the season. We relegate Jesus Christ to the oblivion of our memories while we relish in things that would ordinarily be considered as a desecration of the season by the Author of the season. We revel and engage in so much debauchery than we ever do at other times of the year forgetting the fact that what makes Christmas tick is not the amount of fun we have but the reality that the child Christ came to bestow on us an unprecedented, unconditional love. He chose to forfeit the glory of heaven just to bring us back into a relationship with the Father, a relationship that was lost by our forebears - Adam and Eve. It is this advent of Christ that gradually culminated in the suffering at Golgotha which ultimately brought us the glorious hope that we have today - the hope of eternal bliss in His presence.

If only we can take a moment and ask ourselves what the essence of Christmas is and how best to celebrate Him rather than how to celebrate it. Does He not desire that we, at this period, revisit our relationship with Him, make amends where needed, visit the orphans, the prisoners, the less privileged, the sick, the helpless elderly, the dying and the lost? Should we not at this time try to take stock of our lives to see if we are at peace with Him as well as revisit our broken relationships with a resolve to rebuild them? Have we forgotten so soon that we are only living a borrowed life that can be surrendered to the real owner at His bidding and time? Will everybody that will hit the roads this season come back alive? Certainly not! Some will not even make it to their final destinations while some will not see the end of the celebrations and others, will surrender just on their way back to business as usual. If and when this happens to us, what will become of our eternity? Does it mark the end of business as usual for others simply because we are no more? Certainly not! Life continues for others as they make their way gradually to the exit point as well.

My beloved, it is so easy to whisk away the message in this piece but before you do, put yourself in the shoes of this season's would-be deceased and imagine how many of their dreams and aspirations will die while the Nunc Dimitis is played at their grave side. The real reason for this season is Jesus the Christ and He desires to take the centre stage of our celebrations deserves to be the centre-piece of our dreams and life goals. Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! Peace upon earth and goodwill to men!!!