MY CHRISTMAS REFLECTIONS
by Henry Kenechukwu Okafor
Quite reminiscent of every Christmas season, Christmas songs rent the air coupled with special excitements to herald its advent. The song goes “Christmas time is here.” People start embarking on shopping new apparels, food stuffs, jewelries and reliving their special Yuletide traditions. For many churches, the Christmas traditions include Advent ceremonies. Advent, which means “coming,” is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s first coming into the world to rescue sinners from God’s inevitable just wrath and the anticipation of his hoped for second coming. For congregations that follow a traditional Christian calendar, the church year is a cycle that celebrates the great events in Jesus’ life. Because the believer’s life is now wrapped up in Christ’s life, part of the church’s purpose is to commemorate the glorious events of Jesus Christ’s time on Earth. To commemorate each of the four Sundays of Advent, churches light a candle in the wreath, culminating with a special Christmas candle. At my church, Catholic also includes special readings from Scripture and carol singing.
Many people, believers and nonbelievers alike, cite Christmas as their favorite time of year. I’m no exception. I look forward to Christmas for three reasons:
1.The Christmas season reminds me about my Christian faith.
Christmas presents a great message about celebrating the impeccable truth about the Incarnation (God has come in the flesh). The baby of Bethlehem was Emmanuel (“God with us”). Christmas commemorates the truth that the second person of the Godhead, the eternal Word and Son, left his lofty estate of heaven and entered the world of time and space and became man. As the Apostle John notes, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Christmas, therefore, reminds me of the logical order of my faith.
The triune nature of God makes the Incarnation possible. God’s three-in-oneness (one What and three Whos) makes it possible for the second divine person to take a human nature and become the God-man.
The Incarnation makes the atonement and resurrection possible. Because Jesus is both God and man (a single person with both a divine and human nature), he is able to serve as the redeemer of lost sinners by representing and reconciling both parties (holy God and sinful man). And because our Savior is the God-man even death cannot hold him (thus, resurrection power and victory over sin, death, and hell).
The Advent season consistently reminds me of the great doctrines of my faith including the Trinity, the Incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection.
2.The Christmas season reminds me about my culture.
As a Nigerian citizen and Igbo by tribe, my nation and broader cultures by-and-large celebrates the Christmas season together. I see it in the Christmas decorations and in the general celebratory mood of the Nigerian society. Yes, it often suffers from crass commercialization, but it is still evident that Nigeria has been deeply shaped by the truths of the Christian Scriptures. I consider myself blessed to be part of Western civilization with its deep indebtedness to the Christian world-and-life view. The Christmas season reminds even the non-Christians of its powerful
theological and moral foundations that find their roots in historic Christianity.
3.The Christmas season reminds me about my family.
My happiest childhood memories are mostly connected to the Christmas season. The thrill of meeting with my extended family members-cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents when we travel to my hometown- Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria, slaughtering of Christmas goats/chickens/cows, the giving and receiving of gifts and attending church on Christmas Eve. I have taken great enjoyment in the utter joy that I and my sisters exude during Christmas, especially when we were very young. Together with my cousins, we could feel the holiday spirit in the air hence could hardly sleep a wink on Christmas Eve anticipating the morning’s events.
As a little boy, I always looked forward to Christmas Eve because my lovely mum would take me and my sisters to Cjristmas Eve’s church service. We would come back in the wee hours of Christmas day and we wouldn’t feel like going to bed anymore abecause mummy would immediately start preparing her variety of sumptuous dishes for the Easter Sunday proper.Oh! My mum has incredible skills in cookery.Then later in the day after we had eaten,drank and taken family photograph, mummy would dress us up in our new clothes (She usually buys us new clothes for Christmas) and then would jump into her car to visit our relatives and family friends and we usually ended up coming back with lots of Christmas goodies.
The Christmas season clearly reminds me how much I have to be thankful for in terms of family. I had caring parents. In fact, I’m especially grateful that my father invested so much in me to acquire the best education and made me a successful career professional today.He served in the civil service and rose to the pinnacle of his career where he retired meritoriously after thirty five years of selfless service.
I also have a loving and devoted mother who laid the foundation for my strict and unwavering Christian faith and my sisters that fill my life with love and satisfaction. My mother is an accomplished career educationist in the civil service. None of my professional accomplishments have been as fulfilling as my roles as son and brother.
As a Christian, I’ve found the true meaning of my life by seeing my life wrapped in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. As the Apostle Paul states in Colossians 3:3–4, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
The Advent season calls us all to remember when Christ was born and to rejoice for his birth. As my favourite Christmas carol extols, “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” My prayer is that we shall experience the wonder of Christmas with renewed hope and joy, and that if you haven’t already done so, you’ll embrace God’s forgiveness of our sins and His free gift of salvation. Remember, Christianity is not about religion. It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ.