The Christmas story for 2020 will be written in many shades and painted in many colours. Like in many parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had its impact on Nigeria.
God in His infinite grace and mercies has spared the country the severity of the infection, and the death rate has been relatively low, with less than 1,500 deaths and an infection rate of just about 15,000.
The deadlier scourge in the country has been the killings, in predominantly Christian regions of Central and Northwestern Nigeria by Islamist herders. Over 1000 people have been killed, while hundreds of Christian communities have been destroyed. Many people have been in refugee camps since March. Many more people have been kidnapped with a huge sum of money demanded their lives. Families are devastated and traumatised.
How can Christmas have a merry season or a joyful celebration in a year like this? The Primate of All Nigeria, Henry Ndukuba, in a message to the Church at a Christmas Carol Service, said: “We celebrate because in our suffering, God is with us,” and that is the truth of the Gospel.
Jesus, knowing we live in a fallen world, caused by our disobedience and sin from the beginning in Genesis 3, set the plan in motion to come into our sufferings and our pains, to work through these pains with us to the glorious end when He returns in His glory to judge and restore God’s plans for mankind.
We celebrate Christmas because it is the moment in history, when God came into our situation and brought hope, joy, and peace through the door He has opened to eternity; to bring us back into a loving relationship with God. So, while we are perpetually confronted with tragedies and sorrows, we are assured of victory and God’s extravagant love because God is with us. He has always been and will ever be if we only focus on Him and completely trust in Him to give us justice and give us rests in our storms of life. “As we celebrate Christmas this year, we must remember that Christ came for all peoples, no matter their tribes, tongues, or race.”
Primate Ndukuba said: “This gift is for everyone who believes… and we must live by faith, as the Bible says, ‘the just shall live by faith.’ So also must all Christians have total faith that even in the midst of the tragedies around us, Christ still remains the one and only solution.
“Jesus is the light of the world, and without Him, not only will we live in perpetual sin, which causes death but we will also live in darkness,” Ndukuba said. Jesus is the light of the world “and that is why we believe in Him, we trust Him, we love Him, and we live and have our being in Him.”