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Christmas is around the corner

FAMILY MATTERS with PASTOR CHANDA
THURSDAY, December 10, 2015: When I was young, we only had one radio station and it was Zambia Broadcasting Services (now Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation). It was the radio station that announced the arrival of Christmas with a song. The song was,
Tell your mother, “Happy Christmas!”
Tell your father, “Happy New Year!”
Yipppeeeeeee!!!
That short song played in our ears over and over again literally every day and we knew that Christmas had arrived. Thankfully, we were on the receiving side of the Christmas cards and gifts. We were too young to have money of our own, and so we looked forward to the gifts.
On Christmas morning we found gifts “from Father Christmas” on our beds! We opened them and excitedly went to show our parents what Father Christmas had brought us. They acted surprised and excited. Then we feasted all day with family friends. That was Christmas then.
Fast forward some forty years. What has changed? For one, I’m not sure what the favourite Christmas song is today. With so many radio channels it now depends on which channel one likes to listen to. Once in a while I still year the old favourite and I join in the final “Yipppeeeeeee!”
Then digital technology and a harsh economy have killed the culture of buying and sending Christmas cards. Today you get a Christmas card on your computer or on your phone. It remains there. You cannot put it on a shelf until after New Year’s Day for other people to read.
Talk about the family celebrations and the gifts. The harsh economy has killed that culture almost completely, especially for those in the lower income bracket. At the most, the men go to the bars and drink their heads off. Perhaps the kids have a soft drink and some biscuits. That is all.
Does this mean we have lost the meaning of Christmas? Of course not! Christmas in essence is about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into this world as a baby in order to save us from our sins and from hell (Matthew 2:25). Whether we get cards and gifts or not does not change that.
It is not what we read on cards that matters the most but rather it is what we read in the Bible. So, those of us who are parents should take time to read the accounts of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ to our families. The accounts are found at the start of the Gospel of Matthew and Luke.
It is also not what we receive from our parents that really matters but rather what we have received from God. Have we taken the time to accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? Our fragile Chinese-made gift toys hardly last a week, but the gift of God’s salvation is eternal.
So, the harsh economic times have merely reduced the distracting noise around Christmas but they have not killed the essence of Christmas itself. We must take time to go to church as a family and hear the good news about the Saviour that was sent from heaven.
It is really up to us as heads of homes to ensure that our children cherish the coming of the Saviour into this world. If all we do is disappear to the local bar to drown our sorrows we will rob our children of memories that we ourselves cherish. Empty pockets do not mean no Christmas.
Churches often have special Christmas events for the whole family. They go out of their way to prepare Christmas carols and nativity plays. I know we have watched them many times, but remember that it is for your children. Bring them to church so that they enjoy all these.
Sadly, often Christmas morning finds fathers nursing hangovers. The children wake up very early with excitement. It is finally Christmas Day! Unfortunately, their fathers (and sometimes mothers too) can hardly move because they feels as if someone is playing drums in their heads.
This has to change. Christmas is around the corner. Let us face the fact that “dollar ya dula” (the dollar has become expensive). Yet, let us not deprive our children of Christmas. Let us spend the day at a church where special events will remind them of the greatest gift in history!

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