“CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2018 from THE RT. REVEREND JAMES ALLEN YAW ODICO, BISHOP OF THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF GAMBIA

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Dear People of God,

The news we receive in the mass media nowadays is disheartening, frightening and stressful.  If it is not a terror attack, it is about climate change, lately we are confronted with the emergence of a new threat of arms race.The bilateral agreement between the United States of America and Russia to limit and reduce their substantial nuclear warheads and strategic missiles and bomber arsenals that have survived over the past five decades is at threat with America threatening to pullout of the accord for several reasons.The threat of a cold war is seemingly incubating. New nuclear threats are emerging (Iran, North Korea).

Regional giants are throwing their weights in Yemen claiming innocent lives. Deadly diseases are threatening lives.In times past, it was HIV and AIDS, and now Ebola, which claimed the lives of thousands in our neighbourhood. Today, Congo is not only battling with civil unrest, but the monstrous Ebola has surfaced again reigning panic among people in the subregion.

In the social media, we share news of human trafficking, and the inhuman treatment our brothers and sisters receive abroad. People complain of great injustice, leaders abusing authority and amassing wealth in the midst of acute corruption. The question many have asked and some will still be asking today might be, ‘is it God’s will that we continue in this mess?’

Friends, in the midst of these frustrating circumstances, there is Good News. God loves us. At creation he provided the best opportunity for us in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15-22) but we, being represented by Adam, squandered it all through disobedience (Genesis 3:1-19), bringing sin, suffering and death for humanity.

However, God still loves us even in the depth of sin, therefore He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). 

Beloved in Christ, as we celebrate Christmas 2018, we are pleased to share with you the good news of great Joy that was shared over two thousand years ago. This news is not meant for Christians alone but for every one under the face of the Earth.

Breaking the news to a group of shepherds tending their flocks in a nearby field, then, the angel of the Lord announced:

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NIV).

A deeper meaning of the news was illuminated when “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:13-14 NIV)

Jesus’ mission is to glorify God in His act of redemption to reconcile us with God.  Jesus shed His blood on Calvary to pay for our sins. His sacrificial blood restores our relationship with God and gives us eternal life when we believe in him.

Throughout the world, Christians and non-Christians celebrate Christmas with great joy.However, this joy will not be complete until we understand the degree of God’s love for humankind that compelled Jesus to suffer and die only to reconcile us again with God.

Friends, it is only when we understand the magnitude of such love that we will be able to genuinely repent and claim the salvation, and thereby join the angel and the Heavenly Host in praising God Saying:

  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

Beloved in Christ, our lives on Earth is worthless if it does not glorify God. Most of us have diverse plans for this Christmas; some of us have gone very far in implementing our Christmas plan. However if any of our plans fall short of glorifying God, we now need to revisit them.  It is never too late to review our plan. The wise people do suggest that it is better to cancel a wedding on the Bachelor’s eve than to proceed when we fully know it will end in divorce.

Christmas is a time of sharing God’s love with our neighbour.  As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us consider the plight of those who are displaced, those who suffer injustice, those who are sick, those who are hungry, and the unemployed. We may not have a physical gift for them, yet we can help significantly.

Friends, at times, we ignorantly complain about the plight of these victims and search for solution to their challenges when such solutions are in our palms. One significant way we can help is by being faithful and diligent in all we say or do.

Fellow Gambians and all God’s people, by simply carrying out our responsibilities at home and at work with diligence, free from corruption but instilling love, discipline and fairness, we will be contributing immensely in uplifting the lives of these vulnerable members of our society and enable them to join us in praising God Saying:

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

Therefore, let us examine ourselves and change any attitude that does not glorify God.

We are fully aware that in this world of greed and lust, the task can be a challenge. The good news is that with God nothing is impossible. Jesus Christ Says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Mat 11:28-29 NIV)

We need to rely on Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to take full control of our lives. If we surrender all to Him then even our thoughts and actions will be align with God, and we will be confident in praising God Saying:

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

On behalf of the Anglican family in the Diocese of Gambia, I wish the Head of state, the Government and people of our beloved nation, The Gambia; my colleague Bishops, our mission partners, our brothers and sisters in the Muslim fraternity, people of other faiths, and well-wishers, a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. 

GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

Source: Picture: Reverend Canon James Allen Yaw Odico