Beloved in Christ, we have just celebrated the nativity of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. St. John describes this mystery as “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. (John 1:14a NIV)
St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, reveals to us that we were in bondage “under the elemental spiritual forces of the world” but when the appointed time was ripe “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born” under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:3-5) The birth of this saviour is what we celebrate this Christmastide. St. John testifies that the world did not recognise him nor receive him even though the world was made through him. Nonetheless he gave right to all who receives him and believes in his name to become children of God (John 1:10-13)
Before the Law, God had promised Abraham that by his seed, which is the person of Jesus Christ, all the earth will be blessed. Christ was born under the conditions of law so that he might redeem those who were themselves under the ‘curse of the law’, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
Friends, the law is not divisible, failure to obey every aspect of the law brings one under the curse of the law; therefore, one cannot be justified before God under the law, because "the righteous will live by faith." (Galatians 3:10-11)
The law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, (Galatians 3:24-26)
Beloved people of God, as the year 2021 ends, opening the gate of the New Year 2022, we want to remind you of this good news: Because you are God’s Children, He sent the Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father. “So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6-7)
Friends, do you have room in your heart for our Lord Jesus Christ to dwell?
Apostle Paul reminded the Galatians, that they were slaves to the spirits of the world before they believed in Christ, therefore, now that they have received the spirit of Christ and are heirs of the Kingdom of God they should not turn back to those “weak and miserable forces” (Galatians 4:9)
Fellow children of God, The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (Romans 8:15-16)
As we crossover from the year 2021 to the year 2022, let us proceed as legitimate children of the Most High God. Let us demonstrate the faith of the priests who carried the ark of the LORD to cross the Jordan, knowing that as they “set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." (Joshua 3:13-17) Like the ark of the Lord, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
Therefore, we implore everyone to believe in Jesus Christ and claim the promise God made to our ancestors so that we will all cross over to the year 2022, as children of God.
You may have gone through many challenges in 2021, and have been questioning why you have not been able to make a break through.
Be assured that God’s hands are opened to receive you. Take the first step and he will do the rest. For “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves. Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:1-3 NIV)
To you viewing, listening, or reading this message, know that if you have received Christ, you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 4:7 NIV)
The tradition of making resolute plans for the New Year is not as easy as before. The past two years have been more challenging. The sudden appearance of COVID 19 has changed the development dynamics of the global community. Local and international restrictions make it difficult to set resolutions as the execution of most of these resolutions tend to be getting out of one’s sphere. Travel and tourism are adversely hit. A number of countries are bracing up to introduce new COVID restrictions as the Omicron variant threatens the world. The available vaccine doses are not adequate to combat or manage the new variants. We encourage those who have not taken the full dose of the relevant vaccine to do so as soon as possible. Health professionals are encouraging people to take additional booster dose to strengthen their immunity against the new variants.
Aside the COVID challenge, the New Year comes with many other challenges: the National Assembly and Local Government elections, the new Government trying to honour her promises to the electorates, the new Government trying to bridge the political divide in the nation, each family trying to devise and implement new strategies to improve their wellbeing. Business units will be trying to strategize and enhance organisational effectiveness in order to excel in the competitive market. All these strategies and effort will be fruitless without God. Therefore, we implore you to open your hearts to create room for Christ to dwell. With Christ in the vessel, we shall surely smile at the storm.
Fellow Gambians and all that live in the Gambia, we fervently pray that 2022 will be the Year of breakthrough for the Gambia. However, as we conclude this message, let us brainstorm with these questions:
How can I improve my relationship with God?
How can I contribute to make Gambia better for all?
How can I contribute to build on the peace and love inherited from our patriotic ancestors?
To what extent, have I demonstrated compassion, mercy and forgiveness and above all, love for others irrespective of creed, ethnicity, nationality or political association?
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. Amen
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; our mission partners, our brothers and sisters in the Muslim fraternity, and well-wishers, a Happy and Prosperous New Year. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.