Festivals and celebrations are meant to infuse hope and new life in struggling humanity. Still, it is true that most of us who have undergone deep sorrow and pain on the loss of our near and dear ones feel unable to participate in the mainstream celebrations of any major festival. While we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, we celebrate the love of God for man. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Still, Christmas is not only about rejoicing; it is also about sorrow and pain. Jesus Christ was born in a stable where cattle were kept. The Bible says, “There was no room at the inn.” (Luke 2:7).
“King Herod, worried and insecure after he was asked about the birth of the child, massacred all male children aged two and under in his land.” (Matthew 1:16). The holy family of Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus had to flee to Egypt. Jesus grew in age and wisdom and brought solace to all the people He met. Still, in the end, He was rejected and crucified. A suggested way of observing festivals is to reach out to the marginalised and underprivileged, the outcasts whether economic, social, or political. Because, there is in every human heart a sad place that only God can touch and heal. Christmas is a celebration of love, peace and joy. It is this mystery of God becoming man, which is the core of the Christian faith. However, this season of spiritual happiness has over the years been overtaken by superficial celebration, be it with fancy greeting cards, decorations, gifts, decking up, feasting, in a phrase an occasion for the rich and fashionable.
Free offers, posters and banners have almost blanked out its essence. And many, who might miss the asterisk of the conditions that apply, can easily end in terrible disappointment. It is for these that the core values of the festival are still on offer, free, and without any conditions. If only we are willing to give it a chance. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is today a city besieged with its people divided, the economy suffocating, and a large number who believe such devastation could hasten the second coming of Christ. No, Christians who have lived here for centuries have never been prevented from praying at the historical site of Christ’s birth. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem does not separate Palestinians from the Jews. However, it’s the Israeli policies that are dividing the Palestinians. Numerous Christians continue to emigrate from Bethlehem due to the fear of Israeli military incursions, which is exacerbated by economic devastation from the Israeli closure imposed upon the city.
It is shameful that many in the Christian Right believe that unconditional support for Israel would hasten the return of Christ. Never mind if people on all sides continue to suffer and die to realise this prophecy. Christmas carols describe the occasion and numerous traditions associated with the celebration, through images on each of the 52 cards. The pack is printed in Belgium for the Heritage Toy and Game Company in the UK. Lapland Heroes is another great pack that tells the story of the Santa Claus’ family. It has pictures of the energetic elves, Santa Claus’ faithful reindeer and even his wife. Perhaps the most exquisite is the Jesus Deck, a collection of 54 magnificent paintings depicting the persons, places and events in the life of Jesus Christ, rendered by artist, William Atkins. Each of the four suits portrays a different aspect of the life of Jesus Christ as told by the four Gospel writers — Luke (birth and childhood), Matthew (teachings), Mark (passion and death) and John (resurrection). Each card beautifully illustrates in picture and verse a significant episode in the life of Jesus Christ.