“CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2018 from THE PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE GAMBIA, THE METHODIST CHURCH THE GAMBIA, THE MOST REVEREND HANNAH CAROLINE FAAL-HEIM

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Birth of Jesus Christ

This Christmas let us hear about the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. We start with the story from John’s gospel, chapter one.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life. And the life was the light of all people.

His life was the light of all people. John’s gospel tells us, the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him: yet the world did not know him …the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. This was the revelation of the Holy Spirit to John.

The birth of Jesus followed many prophecies. The prophet Isaiah tells us about the child that would be born. The gospels tell us about the angel’s words to Mary who became the mother of Jesus. The message was foretold and all waited to see this Messiah, Saviour, who will come to save all people.

Luke’s gospel tells the story of the angels, who were very excited and were praising God loudly at the birth of Jesus. The prophecies and all the promises had come to pass, through the birth of the baby Jesus. God had accomplished his plan to save all people through Jesus. The Word became human at the birth of Jesus and what came into being in him was life by the Holy Spirit and the life was light for all who walked in darkness.

The angel gave the good news to the shepherds that Jesus was born and that he would bring peace between God and human beings. 

The angel announced: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10). 

The angel encouraged the shepherds to look for Jesus.  The angel continued to say:  “the sign to identify the Saviour is that you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Jesus in human body was the life of the world, because through his resurrection, he would bring new life to all human beings who believe in him. Jesus in human body was also the light of the world, because he would bring light to all people. 

Jesus the light dispels darkness and John says, “the darkness has not overcome the light.” John the Baptist witnessed to the light, that he would come and he did come, in human form. Indeed the world back in Jesus’ day was in darkness, and there is still some darkness today in the hearts of people, which is seen in the acts they do. There is greed and selfishness, as some are determined to keep on getting more and more through consumerism. Those who are still in darkness today believe that they will be happy if they acquire more and more things.  And if they cannot get them they will take them by force from others and make their lives miserable and dark too. 

We live in a world where there is also darkness through disease. And there is pitch darkness in some places of the world through slavery and trafficking and other kinds of terrible suffering, but however dark the world gets, the darkness cannot overcome us because Jesus the light of the world is in us, if we believe in him.

Let us rejoice for through Jesus we can all be saved. The angels praised and praised, they had seen it happen and they wanted to tell everybody.  But it was late at night and everybody was asleep. The only people they could find awake and alert were   some shepherds who were working late in the field watching over their flock at night. 

Why did Jesus come to earth? “For God so loved the world that whosoever, believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Eternal life?  How can we have eternal life today? Here we need to listen again to the gospel of John, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (chapter 1:11). 

But how can we receive him and how can we believe in his name?

We need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We need to believe that God loves us unconditionally. We need to accept that we are sinners. We need to confess our sins to Jesus. We need to invite Jesus through prayer into our lives. We need to turn away from our past sins and begin a new life with Jesus. If we want to know the whole story of God’s love in Jesus, and to be like him, we need to learn about it through others and through the reading of the Bible.  

Thanks to God for Jesus Christ, the life and the light of the world. In Jesus all can have eternal life. This is still the message and celebration of Christmas. Jesus Christ is born for us today. 

Christmas is celebrating the life of Jesus, telling and hearing the story again and again, for it is for all people in every generation. As you celebrate Christmas, remember, it is the life of God that lasts forever. Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and was born as a human being. He came as the Saviour for the entire world.  For God all things are possible. All we have to do is receive his word and believe.

On behalf of the Methodist Church The Gambia, I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a life filled with the love of God. Amen.

Source: Picture: THE MOST REVEREND HANNAH CAROLINE FAAL-HEIM