What does Christmas mean to you?

By Jovitta Iorshase

The sole essence of Christianity began with Christmas; hence it was from Christ’s birth that the salvation of humanity was gained after His death and resurrection.

Miraculously, though this commemoration of the birth of Christ which started thousands of years ago, with revolving ways or manner of celebration from decade to decade, country to country, region to region, families and individuals, etc the festive spirit still remains intact .

Ordinarily, with the general high cost of living been experienced every year, one would imagine that some years back or even ahead, December 25th would be observed just like an ordinary day, but no! no matter the nature of the economy, there is always a hustle and bustle in preparing for Christmas, while some people start preparing for Christmas from January, others July and some do that two weeks or days to this special occasion.

More often than not, questions have been asked, words of advice given by intellectuals and Clergies on the “fuss” people make for a celebration that lasts only a day. Also even with the harsh economy, coupled with so much unpleasantness in recent times, the tradition is still maintained? Are some of the unanswered questions that do not stop people from doing what they desire.

Among all the festivities recorded in the Christianity Religion, Christmas season is the only one that stirs so much love and reunion that is experienced among family members, associates etc the Church. This affirms to God’s command which says, “I will build my Church and the gate of hell shall not prevail”.

The Catholic faithful begin their celebration by setting apart special preparatory Sunday services called Advent. Other activities like the Christmas Carols among various churches do not only unite other Churches together but also create a peaceful and joyous mood that makes the season merrily.

Most Christians all over the world start preparing for Christmas: The Nativity or Birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, early December every year. The month of December is even considered as a Holy month in some regions like Rome, Denmark and the likes, with some national activities even adjusted in honour of the anticipated arrival of the Baby Jesus. This could include charitable ventures to the needy, national pardons (amnesties) to groups, acknowledgement to deserving groups and so forth to make the impact of this glorious occasion felt by many.

The use of Christmas trees, hats, apparels, decorations of homes, shops among others with colourful ribbons, sparkling lights and balloons coupled with the usual December cold weather, cooking of special delicacies, exchanging of gifts, travelling and socializing among others give Christmas such uniqueness that can not be compared and this is what Christmas means to a lot of people, even Christians not Christ who is actually the reason for the celebration.

Christmas obviously is derived from Christ the Lord and its true meaning for believers is the celebration of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. We know that through belief in Him we are saved from Satan’s oppression. So only accepting Him by Christians round  the world would make both the superficial  and spiritual preparation and celebration meaningful.

It is a season of reflection to spiritually accept and receive the new born King Jesus by adopting His qualities.

That is why Evangelist Philemon Ukpe in a Christmas Carol Service held at NKST Ati, Makurdi, recently charged Christians to accept Christ completely with boldness as they prepare to commemorate His birth again.

Preaching a sermon with the theme: “Let us accept Jesus with boldness” He observed that a lot of Christians are afraid to publicly accept Jesus Christ for the fear of rejection by certain superiors that have contributed to their earthly needs or losing out of the pleasures of life.

“Accepting Christ is one thing and admitting Him in our lives as our personal Lord and Saviour is another thing. It is possible for a person to say, I am a Christian but may be, the traits may not be there. Those practical traits people are looking out for is what matters in the life of a Christian.

“We Christians must put our faith to practice both in the open and secret, home and away before unbelievers to justify the name Children of God”. He explained

Evangelist Ukpe further encouraged that, the life we are living on earth is temporary as shown in the death of many loved ones and so, believers should embrace a life style that will be beneficial to them both here on earth and the life to come.

What Christ reflects should be the bases of Christmas by all. According to Isaiah, He is the Prince of peace, Immanuel: ‘God is with us’, wonderful counselor, the Comforter among other attributes. Isaiah 9:6-8. Therefore, aside merrymaking at Christmas, believers should thrive to reflect Christ in their daily lives with other fellow humans not only on Christmas Day.

Surprisingly however, some people are yet to understand the reason for this celebration, they still refuse to share with the needy, and most people around them go hungry while food and other perishables go to waste in their homes on such an occasion. Others even refuse to pay their employees causing untold hardship, yet continue to profess Christ as their Lord whom they do not reflect His sacrificial and comforting nature.

It is pertinent for Christians to note that Jesus Christ was and is a product of love, and love must be the yardstick of all Christians before, now and after the celebration. When this is done starting with fellow Christians, the ‘little’ love spread will be extended to most people and the level of insecurities, poverty, inhumane treatment will pave the way for more Christ-Like society.

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