May 24, 2012, 10:56 AM
To God in the Highest
There were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ, the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!” (Luke 2:8-14)
At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the Messiah. He was sent from God to be one of us and like us, yet divine. He was born with the purpose of revealing the deep love of God for every single human being on earth: “ And the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14).
The birth of Jesus Christ on the earth is for everyone in the entire world, including The Gambia. It is the birth of good news. It signals a time for salvation, today and forever.
Today on our televisions and the Internet and from our radios and in our newspapers, we see, hear and read many stories of difficult and challenging circumstances for millions of people, and each news story is told from different perspectives. So many of these stories are stories of sadness and sorrow. But where is the good news?
The good news is this: “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Christmas is a time for telling the Good News of Jesus. The angels got excited and happy, that they shared the story to the shepherds in the field watching their flocks by night.
The shepherds went to see the baby Jesus and they, too, giving glory to God, shared the story. The wise men also visited the baby, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And they, too, shared the story with others.
Today, we are reminded by the good news of Jesus Christ that we must remain steadfast in our belief in God and trust in the love of God for the whole world. God is interested in all of us. Yes, he loves people of every tribe, race, colour and culture of the world. People of The Gambia and all who live and work here in The Gambia, and those of the diaspora, let us love God with all our heart, mind and soul, and let us love our neighbours as ourselves.
Let us pray and work for peace and unity, let us work for the common good of all. Let us put aside pride, selfishness and unbelief, and let us remember that there is an Almighty God, who is the author and sustainer of life. Let us put aside vain arguments and pretentious discussions that do not honour or glorify God and do not contribute to the common good of all. Let us, like the angels, worship and praise God and be thankful.
We need to be one people and work together for peace and unity in the country, despite our differences. In order to have the strength and wisdom to do this, we need to continue to believe in Almighty God and walk daily in the fear of God. All of us together must continue to have a sense of responsibility for one another. In the strength of God, we can practice fairness, co-operation, compassion, friendship and respect. We need to remember the God-given dignity of each person, and love one another even when such love is costly.
We have always been a nation that lives together in peace. As one people we must work together with other members of our families, with friends, and neighbours. We must work together at the local and national levels to prevent divisions, which lead to resentment, hatred and malice. Let us pray to God that the love and support we have for one another is maintained and sustained, for us and for every new generation.
God’s mercy and kindness has always been with us in The Gambia. We must accept that some of us have different viewpoints on various matters, and even though these matters are important, we need to remember that we are all loved by God. In everything we do, we must remember what we share in common.
It is not our differences that define us, but what we have in common. We need to overcome these differences through mutual respect, through listening to one another, through learning from one another.
Together we can seek God’s wisdom to guide us to move forward together. Only then can we continue to enjoy God’s blessings for us, and reach further than we would if we are divided. Jesus Christ has given us a wonderful example of how to live in love and integrity, even and especially in the face of challenging difficulties.
Let us celebrate and value and love each other not only in spite of our differences, but also because of them. It is not enough to tolerate those who are different from us. We must love them as God loves them.
This Christmas, in the love of God brought to us in Jesus Christ; let us extend love to our families, friends, neighbours, the nation and the world.
Let us encourage our children and youths and support women in their childbearing, not forgetting our senior elders, whose wisdom we cannot do without, who deserve our love and care.
We need each other. In fact, the nation needs every one of us. I encourage all of us to pray earnestly, that God would grant us true wisdom, and lead us to serve the nation with diligence, integrity and competence.
May Almighty God help and comfort the lonely, the bereaved and the oppressed. May he keep in safety those who travel, and all who are in danger. May he heal the broken hearted and heal the sick in body and mind, and provide for the homeless, the hungry and the destitute. May he show pity on prisoners and refugees, and all who are in trouble. May he hear us as we remember those who have died, and comfort us with new hope.
The angels sang “glory to God in the highest and peace, goodwill towards men”. Let this song also be our song of worship and praise, and let us glorify God in the highest, let us acknowledge his greatness, and let us put him in the centre of all things in our lives.
At the beginning, we asked: Where is the Good News? Now we know the answer: The good news is in all of us, as we respond to God’s love in Jesus and in turn love God and love our neighbours as ourselves.
May Almighty God bless you, your family, and your neighbours, and may Almighty God bless the Nation of The Gambia through you.
A Happy Christmas to you all.