CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM CHAIRMAN OF THE BARBADOS CHRISTIAN COUNCIL THE REV’D CANNON NOEL A. BURKE
Once again Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a favorite time of year for most persons because of the joy associated with both the day and the season.
The celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth has caught the attention of the entire world; to the extend that is appears attractive to the christian and the non christian alike.
The Apostle and Evangelist St. John captures beautifully the theological and spiritual importance of the Christmas story in the prologue to the Gospel according to St. John.
The prologue to the Gospel of John, ending at 1:14 with the declaration that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us succinctly states the meaning and purpose of Christmas.
There is the body of opinion that the Christmas story recorded in St. John’s Gospel is often neglected because it does not carry the familiar symbolic images of the angels, shepherd and wise men.
It carriers rather what may be considered as a dense doctrinal message of the relationship between the Father and the Son and then extending to God’s relationship with humanity.
What it says essentially is that God almighty dwells in each and every one of us and that his presence resides in nature and in all of our institutions.
The teaching of the Christian Church then, is that Christmas is not simply a popular festival of unbridled merrymaking, neither is it a mere mental recall of a past historical event. Professor Patrick Regan tells is in his book Advent to Pentecost, that Christmas is the annual ecclesial making present in word and sacrament of the always-actual salvation subsisting in the person of Jesus.
When we think of Christmas in this way we may realize that it carries a deep and year-long spirituality that implicates us and lays upon us certain duties and obligations. We may think of these obligations today in four ways.
Firstly we have the duty of recognizing the presence of God in our lives day by day. This does not imply that all things will always go well; but rather in times of joy or sorrow, that God who dwells within us will never forsake us.
Secondly we are to love the neighbour with the understanding that God is in the brother or the sister; including those who differ from us in their theological, spiritual or moral outlook.
Thirdly it places upon us the duty of worship. We must worship the Lord God; not only on one day of the year but recognizing the need to participate to regularly rendering praise and thanks to almighty God in Word and in our traditions and in Sacrament.
Fourthly, God calls us to ecumenical discourse and discussion. It is in St. John chapter 17 that we take note of the prayer of our Lord that we may all be one. The various denominations coming together in discussion does not cause us to deny the peculiarities of each; but rather to recognize the commonality of praising God for the paschal mystery, that is Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
On this Christmas Day then; let us pray that God almighty would bind us together in home and family life, as a people, church and nation and that his continued grace may be with us in the coming year.
On behalf of the executive of the Barbados Christian Council, I wish you a blessed and enjoyable Christmas Day.