The Christmas season is bundled with joyous festivities, merriment, and an underlying consumerism. It is also a period when we focus on spending quality time with family and friends and truly expressing our love and appreciation to them, whether through our office parties, family get-togethers or travelling to other parts of the island to visit loved ones. Many Jamaican households still participate in the traditional Christmas activities, the ‘drawing of the sorrel’, and baking of the Christmas cake, and I know there are still children who can’t wait for the cake to be baked; they just want to scoop the remains of batter from the bowl. We all agree that if we can only have a good meal one day in the year, it must be the Christmas dinner with gungo rice and peas. Whatever the size of our pockets parents still take their children to grand market, and even the most stressed among us may even find themselves inadvertently humming along to a Christmas carol on the radio.
As we draw our family nearer, wish our friends peace and prosperity, and put a smile on the face of our children with whatever gifts we can afford, let us remember the real spirit of Christmas. A long time ago as told by the Holy Bible, a child was born to two faithful, but poor and weary believers who travelled to Bethlehem. They could find no place to rest, only in a stable among cattle and sheep. There in what many would consider lowly circumstances the Son of God, the savior of humanity was born. The birth of Christ was heralded with the loud rejoicing of angels and the magnificent brilliance of stars which attracted lowly shepherds, wise men and kings alike. They knew Jesus was the ultimate manifestation of God’s love for us. They were always looking for a Messiah, a sign that God had not abandoned his people to poverty, despair and suffering, that there would be a leader with a servant’s heart and teacher’s mind to shepherd the people. His simple message was that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves. This was the pathway through which, we as sinners reconcile with God, fulfill our spiritual purpose, over and above our physical and material circumstances, and have hope to be better people and enjoy a better life.
This teaching is a universal prescription. It has endured generations, and withstood the ever advancing understanding of mankind that oftentimes renders Knowledge obsolete. It is the core of our Christian faith that unites us, no matter who we are, whether rich or poor, where we live, whatever our politics, or how we worship. Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the route to hope and salvation. Imagine how Jamaica would truly be paradise if each and every one of us practiced this in our daily lives.
It’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and commit to live the essence of Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but more so in our deeds. This season, remember to give to the less fortunate, pray for the sick, aged and infirmed, share your company with those who are lonely, invite to your table those who are hungry, reconcile with those with whom you differ, love others as you love yourself. Let us remember that we are one, we are all family, one Jamaica.
From, Juliet, Adam and Matthew and me; from my family to yours, have a happy peaceful and loving Christmas.
By Mr. Andrew Holness