(JollofNews)- The heart of the Christmas story in the Gospels is that the Almighty God became a human being in order to show us the full extent of his love. The way God became a human being was through a miraculous birth under very difficult circumstances.
Mary, a young woman full of faith in God became pregnant through the Holy Spirit. She gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God, on the road, in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem, just a few miles from Jerusalem. She and her husband Joseph had to travel there because the Emperor of the powerful empire of Rome, who was occupying her home country of Judea, demanded a census that forced all people throughout the Roman Empire to register for this census in the towns and villages where their ancestors had come from.
And so the highly pregnant Mary and Joseph had to travel, forced by powerful politicians elsewhere. Today as then, we hear of and see in the media of many people, including pregnant women and families with little children and Christians are forced to travel, even flee for their lives from violent oppression and war. For example, from the modern state of Syria, one of the countries right next to Israel, the modern state of the ancient Judea of Jesus’ time.
The heart of the Christmas story however, is indeed that the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, was just like the situations so many human beings are facing today, situations of persecution, of oppression, of war and injustice. Jesus Christ was born, in a stable, far from his parents’ home. Despite, Jesus and his parents were not abandoned by God. His parents were encouraged by the visitation of the shepherds, who told them how angels announced Jesus’ birth as God’s miraculous gift of peace to the world. God also miraculously provided for Jesus, and his parents through scholars and wise men from the East, probably from modern day Syria, Iraq or Iran, when they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, precious provisions and resources the young family would need for their journey to seek asylum in Egypt. Jesus’ parents were protected through an angel, who appeared to them in a dream to warn them of persecution and the threat of murder, so that they could fee abroad and find asylum and safety until they could return home.
The heart of the Christmas story is that God loves us so much that he himself, in Jesus, entered into the very situations of desperate need and danger that so many people experience today. Jesus the son of God and his family survived, and he was able to grow up and become a man full of faith, hope and love. Jesus was the Messiah who went about doing good and healing people and who even raised people from the dead. He also went about inviting people to believe in God, he went about delivering people from demonic possession and evil spirits, he challenged people to repent of their sins and he forgave people their sins.
The heart of the Christmas story is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, not only became a human being, but that he also would die for the sins of the whole world. He would be tortured and crucified as a criminal, not because he had done something wrong, but because he went around doing good and inviting people to believe in God. Throughout all generations and today, we can know with confidence and hope that we will never be alone, no matter what our circumstances may be.
This Christmas which is a season of celebration, of joy, of giving and receiving, Are you sick? Jesus can heal you. Are you oppressed by evil spirits? Jesus can save you. Are you guilty of sin? Jesus will forgive you. Are you alone and in danger? Jesus is with you. Are you betrayed, lonely, mistreated, exploited or oppressed? Jesus will help you. Are you depressed and desperate? Jesus will give you hope. Are you afraid of death? Jesus will give you eternal life. Are you rich and powerful? Jesus can save you and give you eternal life.
The heart of the Christmas story is that in Jesus God continues to show us the full extent of his love. This Christmas let us continue to pray for peace for all people, for their lies, the entire nation of The Gambia and for the whole world. Let us pursue peace and work hard for it.
To His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J Jammeh Babili Mansa, the Vice-President Ajaratou Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy, the religious leaders, the legislative, the National Assembly members and to all who live and work here, and behalf of the Methodist Church the Gambia, I wish you all a blessed Christmas.
Reverend Hannah Caroline Faal-Heim, is the presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of the Gambia and chairperson of The Gambia Christian Council