SPECIALreport on Christmas
By Lawrence Enyoghasu
Leaders of some Christian denominations and pastors in Christian missions have explained what Christmas means, how to celebrate it, and who to celebrate the season with.
They advised that this year should be a solemn celebration for the nation considering the level of agony in the country.
Founder and Spiritual Head of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, in Lagos, Primate Elijah Ayodele, said people should reach out to the needy and indigent on Christmas day.
His words: “In my church, we are going to help the needy with foodstuffs and clothing for the widows. Cash will also be available for the youth. These are just to make sure that they have a very wonderful Christmas. We have been doing that for the past 18 years. Christmas does not segregate anybody. It is for all. The youth should avoid fireworks the insecurity in the country is scary enough. There is poverty in the land. There is pain, hunger, and anger. So, adding knockouts might just attract more insecurity to us. It is a security threat. There should be a solemn Christmas. Many tragedies happening around us require we brood. We are supposed to mourn, not celebrate.”
In the same way, Bishop Chidi Anthony, founder of Kings In Christ Power Ministry International and the President of Pentecostal Ministers Forum of Nigeria, said he is doing giveaways to the youth. The cleric agreed that there is no Biblical backing for the celebration of Christmas but gave reasons for the celebration of Christ’s birth on that day.
“We celebrate Christmas not because it is the day the Lord Jesus was born; it does not have a biblical background but I see it that it is a day mapped out to celebrate him. If we celebrate our birthdays, we could celebrate Him. The celebration is what matters because it is a day to meditate. But a lot of things has gone wrong. People go the extra mile for Christmas; some even commit crime for it. They have shifted what the day was meant for to satisfy the flesh. It is a day to renew our Christian life. I support Christmas but it is on how you celebrate it. This is a time we do giveaways to the people. We are sharing palliatives and doing visitations to motherless babies homes, he explained.
Head Pastor of Christchurch International Ministry, Adeyemi Omoniyi, emphasised the solemnisation of Christmas. He said Nigerians should find a way to gather and converse on how best to move the country forward.
“The celebration is not about cooking; it is about communion, gathering, and fellowship. Then it might now involve eating. It is more of a gathering. It is about the convention. We should be wary of losing context in the presence of prevailing circumstances. Things are not rosy. The government is not getting her bearing and not showing enough empathy. Yet, we have to still praise the Lord but our praising God should come with the solemn assembly. Solemn fellowship. The government should have a rethink because, by this time next year, they may not be there again. God will remove them if they don’t do his will. They need to have human feelings at heart,” he stated.
Pastor Bosun Emmanuel, leader of the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN), a national Christian group catering for internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly makes a case for those who are in need.
“Christmas should be celebrated with the full awareness of why Christ came. Jesus came to save people from sin and open the gate for eternal life. With this understanding, Christmas should be approached with thanksgiving to God, soberness in the realisation of the deliverance Christ gave, joy in the hope of eternal life, and rededication of life to God. Of course, people should rejoice and in the spirit of the season, remember those who are in need,” he stated.
A pastor with the Christ Redemption Bible Church, Ketu, Lagos, Sesan Oluwamogbiele, said Nigerians should celebrate in all seasons.
“Christmas is celebrating the Lord Jesus Christ, who brought us salvation. It is not the date that is important; it is the person. I normally say that Christmas should be celebrated everyday. But since the universe has chosen one day, we should continue to celebrate all seasons, especially in a bad season. When he sees the situation, the celebration will prompt him to rise from his seat and bless us. It all depends on how we celebrate him,” Oluwamogbiele stated.
Charles Akhideno, zonal pastor of City Changers Zonal headquarters, Redeemed Christians Church of God, agreed with Oluwamogbiele on the numerous challenges facing the country and the need to praise God in this Christmas period.
His words: “The year has been very challenging, with COVID-19 issues, lockdown and financial breakdowns and downturns in many businesses. In addition, churches were locked for a very long time. It is only wise that this Christmas should be one of thanksgiving and appreciating God for a new lease of life. Exactly what my father has said: The Siege is over, something new is about to happen and there will be a fresh breath of air. Let’s position ourselves to walk in the prophecy of our General Overseer – to prepare for a fresh breath of air.”