IT’S THAT time of the year! During this season those of us who subscribe to the Christian faith celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
There are debates about the exact date on which Jesus was born.
In fact, historians tell us that originally, there was nothing intrinsically Christian about this holiday. December 25 was a culmination of a week-long holiday of lawlessness declared by Roman pagans.
However, with the passage of time, December 25 has come to be what it is - a day symbolizing the birth of Jesus Christ.
In a culture where Christmas is increasingly losing its Christian worldview, it’s important that we revisit and emphasise why Jesus had to be born rather than when he was born.
Following the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden, humanity was separated from God. In order to cover that sin, something had to die and thus God killed an animal.
The Israelites, biblical history tells us, followed the same pattern.
They presented sin offerings to cover their sins by sacrificing an animal life for their disobedience to God. But this isn’t unique to the Israelites.
Many cultures practice the spilling of animal blood as some form of sacrifice or atonement.
But animals can't take away the sin of man as humans are not related to any other creature - man was created by God. That is why our Creator, in the person of Jesus Christ, had to come into the world to shed His blood.
He became a human (but remained God) so he could pay the ultimate penalty for our sin. When someone rightly decrees punishment to someone for their crime but, out of love, takes the punishment upon themselves, that is grace and mercy.
Essentially, that’s what Christmas or the birth of Jesus is about - God showing grace and mercy to humanity. We should never lose sight of what Christmas really comes down to. Of course, this season has come to mean different things to different people. To the world of commerce, it’s a time for roaring trade. There’s nothing wrong with this. The world turns on commerce. The more there’s trade, the more there’s profit and the more jobs, which we desperately need, are created.
Having said this, there are businesses that will take advantage of unassuming shoppers during this time by overpricing goods and tempting them with credit offers.
Consumers should be alert and not fall prey to such. To families this is a time for getting together.
Given the nature of our country, where economic opportunities are concentrated in the cities and urban areas, during this time a lot of South Africans head back home to be with their loved ones. That’s is important too.
You may not have asked for your family and you certainly cannot trade them, but out of the billions of human beings on Earth, they are the ones who cherish you and you should reciprocate in return.
Take this time to appreciate and enjoy your family's company. If you can afford to buy them gifts, do so. If you can't, a kind word or just spending time together will suffice.
To workers, this is a time for a well-deserved rest. You have worked hard the whole year and this is the time to recharge your batteries.
Rest and recovery are critical components to productivity. We live in a society where we are expected to just go go go. Indeed, rest is considered indulgent and the thought of taking time to do nothing might make you feel guilty.
But it will only do you good to rest and recuperate. And that goes to mothers too. I know you have a thousand things to do, especially during this time when everybody is home. Take time off and slow down.
There’s a time to work and there’s is a time to rest.
Sadly, to some this season is akin to a period of lawlessness as it was to the Roman pagans.
In our case, this lawlessness has a way of showing up on our roads during this time.
We see increased overloading, especially at night on the national roads. We see people drinking and driving, pedestrians jaywalking and others texting while walking.
Unfortunately, this lawlessness leads to the counting of body bags after the festive season - a painful annual ritual.
I appeal to all road users to obey the rules of the road and to be patient with other road users. If you are going to enjoy yourself during the festive season, please do so responsibly.
Last, spare a thought for the less fortunate and show some generosity towards them. Christmas is also about giving. Buy a toy for the poor child and prepare a Christmas lunch for the person who cannot afford it.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL
PASTOR RAY McCAULEY IS THE PRESIDENT OF RHEMA FAMILY CHURCHES AND CO-CHAIRPERSON OF NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS COUNCIL (NRLC)