The clergy yesterday, Christmas Day, emphasised on the need for Christians to embrace peace, love and forgiveness as they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The clergy’s call comes against a background of political tension in the country in the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections and the subsequent challenge of the presidential election results now pending a ruling by the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court.
Christians across Malawi marked the day with special church services spiced by performances of the Nativity play in various churches. In some churches, Holy Communion was served while in others baptism was administered as well.
In their messages, leaders of various Christian churches stressed on the need to forgive each other in the same manner God demonstrated by sending Jesus Christ to save mankind.
In an interview yesterday, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Blantyre Synod general secretary the Reverend Billy Gama said Christmas Day offers Christians an opportunity to reflect on their faith and intensify prayer while maintaining national peace.
He said: “We believe that the coming of Jesus Christ was a manifestation of God’s love. So, as Blantyre Synod, we are saying during this period we must show love to each other.
“While we are celebrating by eating and drinking, we should not lose focus on the coming of Jesus.”
Gama said as part of observing the day, congregations under Blantyre Synod were encouraged to intensify prayers in their respective churches.
In a separate interview, CCAP Nkhoma Synod general secretary the Reverend Vasco Kachipapa said showcasing the spirit of forgiving is important, but there is also need for Christians to exercise the spirit of giving to the needy.
“As Christians, we also need to know that during this season there are others who are going to bed each and every day hungry… We need to consider others as we are doing our feasts.
“We have so much leftovers [excess food] and we forget that we have friends or families in the villages or people elsewhere who are suffering. Let’s share the little that we have,” he said.
Kachipapa also said Christmas is not a time to engage in immoral behaviour, but instead it should be a time for reunion among families.
On his part, CCAP Livingstonia Synod general secretary the Reverend Levi Nyondo described the Christmas celebrations as special in the sense that despite many challenges encountered in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election, peace has prevailed.
He said: “Christians are celebrating very well although it is unlike other years as you know Christians this year are celebrating in a two-fold way; celebrating and waiting on the results from the court elections case. So, it’s not 100 percent celebrations somehow.
“Let us celebrate peacefully as we remember Jesus Christ’s objective of coming on earth was to save mankind so let’s fulfil this great commission and the world will judge that 2019 was special because regardless of challenges they celebrated peacefully.”
In a telephone interview, Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) general secretary Reverend Francis Mkandawire said Christmas also offers an opportunity for Christians to maintain exercising a spirit of peace and coexistence.
He said: “We need to appreciate; our country is hurting, our country is struggling and right now we need restoration of love and peace in our nation and this is what Christ brings hence as Christians, we need to be agents of love and peace and this is what Christ brings more especially at a time like this.”
On his part, Episcopal Conference of Malawi (EAM) secretary general Reverend Henry Saindi said it is important for Christians to celebrate with the true meaning of what Christmas is.
He said: “Christmas is a celebration, you can’t say don’t celebrate. But, we always encourage people to celebrate while at the back of their mind reflecting that Christmas without Christ is meaningless.”
Saindi said besides prayers, Christians are also encouraged to go for confessions as one way of staying close to Christ.
In his Christmas Eve Mass from St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, the head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis told thousands of worshippers that Christmas should remind people that God still loves them.
He said: “God continues to love us all, even the worst of us. To me, to you, to each of us, He says today: I love you and I will always love you, for you are precious in my eyes.”
Billions of Christians worldwide commemorate Christmas Day on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.