The Most Reverend Bannie Ebenezer F. Manga Presiding Bishop of The Methodist Church of The Gambia and Chairman Gambia Christian Council

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Isaiah 25 verse 1 reflects the following words, ‘O Lord, you are my God, I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago’. One of such marvelous things God has done for us is the birth of Jesus Christ.  This event is celebrated in what we call Christmas.

Christmas is portrayed in various shades in contemporary times. It is for some a time for family gatherings and reunions, for others it is a time for various cultural activities while for others it is a holiday season. These positions sometimes can be so loud that they might want to overshadow the real meaning of Christmas and it’s season.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Saviour of the World. The human race was created to find rest in God. St Augustine of Hippo reflects it thus ‘our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in God’. In Genesis 3 verse 10, we have recorded that man tells God that ‘I heard you in the Garden and I was afraid. Because I was naked, so I hid…’. This ‘nakedness’ of ours cause by disobedience and sin has separated us from the love and purposes of our Creator God.

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In his infinite love and wisdom, God knew that we cannot be reconciled back to him unless He (God) initiates it. Consequently he sent various prophets and messengers to seek to redirect humanity back to himself. These prophets in seeking to do their mandates were met with various resistance and hostilities as humanity just would not respect and value the messages that they represented. Humanity was seeking to be independent from its source of life.

God cannot and will not have this position be upheld. Since he has given humanity a free will to choose, he decided to offer us a pathway unto salvation – unto himself. In the birth narratives according to the Gospel of Luke 2 verse 10 and 11, scripture records the following words. ‘But the angel said to them, ‘do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord’

It is important to note that the words of the angel is positioned on ‘do not be afraid’. We live in a context where there is a lot of fear – fear of neighbor, fear within our communities, fear of the unknown tomorrow and sometimes of our very selves. Fear is root in that which limits and binds us. Fear can hinder progress and prosperity. Fear breeds unnecessary tensions and social sad realities. Fear hides us from God our creator and from being the best that we can be in God. The existence of fear in our lives makes us restless.

Since this was not God’s intention for humanity, a way out must be created. God provided a Saviour – Jesus the Christ.  The birth of Jesus begins this pathway unto salvation. God sent Jesus to touch our humanity – our lives and communities. We can now be reconciled back to God and be at peace with our selves, our neighbors and more so with the source of our existence, God himself. What is great news and great joy that this.

Sin sort to separate us from God. Psalm 130 verse 3 tells us that if God was to keep a record of our sins, who could stand. This is scary and could make us restless. But the good news is that there is a way out of this cage and bondage. Jesus is born. He is come as God’s gift to humanity. John 3 verse 16 sums it thus ‘for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’.

In the light of the above discuss, let this Christmas be about Jesus Christ. Let it be about his love for humanity. Let it be about establishing the kingdom of love amongst us as a community. Let Christmas be about peace and goodwill to all. Let it be a revival of our concept of neighborliness and friendship. Let it be about sharing with each other the goodness of God bestowed so graciously to all. Let this Christmas be a reflection of the purpose of God for humanity. Let it also be a time of prayer for peace in our homes, families and community.

We are privileged to have Christmas fall on a Sunday this year. Let’s meet together to worship and glorify God. Let our singing and prayers and messages of goodwill be an epitome of what our lives will reflect so that through you, someone will be blessed. Let our nation smile once again this Christmas knowing very well that God can and is with us.

On behalf of the Methodist family within The Gambia, I pray for a happy and a blessed Christmas season to you all in the name of the celebrant himself, Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

Most Revd Bannie Ebenezer F. Manga

Presiding Bishop

Methodist Church The Gambia

December 2022.