Indeed as with all religious feasts, Christmas is also a time for family reunion and a time for caring and sharing with the less fortunate among us. But more particularly, it is a time for communion between man and God. It also coincides with that time of the year when we take stock of our lives and assess our relationship with God and with man. This period of spiritual assessment should allow for a better preparation of an improved life characterized by greater spiritual richness, peace with oneself and happiness in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
As we reflect on the religious significance of Christmas and on our actions during the year, I want us to pause for a minute to think about the big and small mercies that God Lord has bestowed on us in the course of the year. I also want us to reflect on how much we have given to God and to society. Christmas teaches us the virtues of sharing, caring and humility.
We see Jesus Christ being born into a humble background but we also see the Kings, the Wise men and others come to kneel before his crib. Christmas also preaches unity. We also see Jesus Christ and the Christian faith uniting men and women from different walks of life. These symbolisms are too great and remain valid for modern day societies. Yet, human actions in most parts of the world today are not at complete variance with our religious beliefs. I therefore urge every Gambian, irrespective of ethnic or religious affinity, to jealously treasure a quality that has come to form part of the qualities that make us Gambian: our unqualified acceptance and tolerance of each other and of different religious groupings living side by side harmoniously.
This religious tolerance has been manifested in so many ways, not least in the participation of Muslims and other religious bodies in the celebration of Christmas; Let us continue to inculcate these virtues in our children as the future leaders of this country. We should therefore encourage them to participate in the traditional cultural masquerades that make the Christmas period a unique experience in The Gambia. This would also ensure that our children appreciate and nurture our culture, which is slowly being threatened by the western pop culture. The traditional "Fanal", "Kumpo", "Kankurang" and "Hunting" just to name a few, really add the spice to the Christmas season and we must not allow this to disappear.
Similarly, for those of us who are privileged to witness Christmas in good health, we must not forget the sick. Let us each dedicate some time off our busy schedule to visit and share with them whatever little blessings that the Almighty Allah has showered on us so that they too can partake of the joys of Christmas.
Indeed the lessons derived from Jesus' birth and humble but dignified background are many, yet individuals, companies and governments are fired by greed and the will to acquire more wealth to the detriment of fellow human beings. At this juncture, my thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of families around the world affected by the current economic crisis and who will not celebrate Christmas as usual. As we celebrate Christmas, let us also pray that the plight of those directly affected will be eased. Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters in countries where there is instability and conflict that affect their peace and sustenance.
Finally, as you engage in the prayers and merriment of this festive season, please exercise caution and moderation in your merriment and especially for the younger generation, avoid over speeding and drink-driving to ensure a hitch-free celebrations. I wish all Gambians and residents in The Gambia and indeed humanity at large, a very merry and peaceful Christmas. May God the Almighty shower his bounteous blessings on us all during the festive season and beyond.
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