SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2011.
FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” -Isaiah 9:6-7
CENTURIES before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah had been allowed to look through the veil of time and see this happy occasion of the birth of Jesus. Seeing it, he wrote with exultation, ‘unto us a child is born’. This child is to be called: Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father and The Prince of Peace, and more importantly, the government was to be upon his shoulders.
It is interesting to note that poor little shepherds shared in the joy and excitement of the season. Robert Seklemian observed: “The shepherds near Bethlehem were keeping watch over their flock by night. The night was dark and peaceful. Sheepherding is a lonely occupation and a strenuous one. Grazing sheep range far and wide, and need constant watching lest they stray. Being defenseless creatures, they must be watched over by the shepherds, lest lions, bears, or wolves attack them while they sleep. These shepherds, although humble men, were necessarily rough and tough men. They were almost constantly isolated, unused to the stir and excitement of city life.
“The account says they were “abiding in the field.” This was their home. Their roof was the vault of heaven. They lived under the stars. There was a sameness and monotony in their lives. Every day was the same. Day in and day out, in silence, broken only by the plaintive cries of the sheep, the rustle of the wind in the grass, and the occasional distant howl of the wolf. Nothing exciting ever happened. That is, not until that night. They said, ‘let us now go, even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass; which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger’ Luke 2v15, 16. However, this babe was to be the redeemer of the world.”
In a manner of speaking, the child that was born unto us brought relief, peace, joy and happiness to the Jews who were under Roman rule, and by extension, the entire world. It is very disturbing to note, however, that we live in a world that is never free from problem and crises. Globally, we hear of wars and rumours of wars, threat to human existence by the depletion of the ozone layer, environmental degradation, pollution, flooding and economic meltdown and its attendant effects. It is worse when we look inwardly in our nation. The picture seems to be gloomy. We have unbridled Boko Haram attacks, paralysed academic activities as a result of face-off between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, bloodletting that has reached feverish pitch, unemployment, armed robbery, kidnapping etc.
The direct consequence of the above is that many of our people are suffering in silence. But it should not be so. For unto us a child is born, and His birth ought to give us hope, relief, peace, joy and happiness. I know God did not make a mistake by sending to the troubled world a child who is both redeemer and restorer of hope.
Therefore, this season of Christmas should be a time of gladness and joy. Bible commentators encourage us: “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head. They shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isa. 51:11). “They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:23, 24). “And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation and in- sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isa. 32:17, 18).
It is my view that all God’s people in this yuletide should honour Christ in our lives and governance in order to enjoy a new lease of life. He is with us; He will not disappoint us.
Happy celebrations.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.