My dear brethren,
I beseech you to receive this Calvary greeting in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour and Lord.
As we near the end of another exciting and rewarding year, I wish you a blessed Christmas full of joy, hope, wonder and peace. I am certain that your journey of Advent has prepared you for the coming of Christ in your life one more time. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9: 6. As Christians, we are blessed to witness and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, His divine intimacy and unending exaltation. Therefore, during this season, we celebrate that God knows and meets all our needs.
The 2019 coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has over 274 million confirmed cases and caused over 5.35 million deaths worldwide as of December 17, 2021. On top of the pandemic, the Nigerian economy has created so much hardship for Nigerians. Along the same lines, the forces of darkness are getting stronger and more determined. Many families are struggling to make ends meet and too many young people among us are being led astray by the false gods of drugs, alcohol and momentary pleasures. Momentary pleasures that destroy permanently. As foretold in the Scriptures, there is an increase in travels and knowledge, wickedness, war, and turmoil. Love of men waxes cold, while iniquity abounds. Sadly, many searches all the wrong places for answers that hurt rather than help.
God has provided us with the answer and the solution. A response which triumphs over all tragedies and all its temptations. Every one of us needs Christmas and Jesus Christ. God’s answer to our cries is His Son, which is very evident and unequivocal. Yea: Jesus Christ, His Son! He is the answer of God to our cries and the solution to our problems. He is God’s gift to us all. He breaks down the barriers, for the name of peace is Jesus Christ. He is our Peace! He alone can soothe our fears, renew our strength, lift our hearts and bring joy to our lives! This Christmas, go forth to meet Him; lift up your hearts; sing for joy. For the entire humanity has witnessed the salvation of our God!
We must never forget to place immediate emphasis on the incredible meaning and gift of Christmas, despite the constant pressure of daily routines and the commercial appeal of secular activity. Just as Jesus was born in this world that night, so was hope. Hope was born for a world in need as we are today. Christ was born in order that we should not die, but have everlasting life. Christ came as light to the world which lived and lives in darkness.
Christmas is about giving, not receiving. It is about the gift of self, presence, and presents. God the Father profoundly brings us His Presence through the birth of Jesus. He comes to us in the Spirit of the priceless love of God in order to offer us the Covenant and with the desire to make everyone part of His Body. He did not only come to us in our misery, but gives us God’s bread. He is always ready to support, to comfort, to pardon, to prepare us for His peace. His presence is wide open from heaven to earth and there is room through, with and in Him.
In the spirit of Christmas, I urge you this festive season not only to spare a thought for those least fortunate, those most in need, but to share with them in some tangible and meaningful way the warmth of the Christmas season. Show them the generosity, benevolence of heart, mercy, care and love which are in conformity with Christ’s message. Invite the hungry to break bread with you. Visit the sick, whether at home or in the hospital – bring them a little comfort, hope, but most of all, console them. Don’t forget the elderly, help them remember Christmases in the past, but also help them find joy in the Christmas we celebrate. When visiting, remember to comply with all COVID-19 protocols. Health is a resource!
As we enter 2022, Christ requires us to live creatively in the context of all the new opportunities that only a real gift of Christ can bring. I pray that you will be able to make this a Christmas you will never forget, in deepening your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and joyful in the warmth of His presence. He is glorified and will be revealed to all as Lord, Saviour and Judge at the end of human history; for He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Let the blessing of God be upon you, and let you experience unspeakable joy as you walk in obedience to the divine instructions of God. Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
With Love and Joy,
The Rt. Revd. Dr. Christian Onyeka Onyia
Bishop, Diocese of Nike