Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
I read an account from a missionary that was recounting a Christmas past.
Children in Zimbabwe are no different from their counterparts around the world when it comes to Christmas. They are full of anticipation and hope.
As children from the city, we spent most of our Christmas holidays in our ancestral village, having traveled a long distance to be with extended family and to partake of all the good food prepared for us. Christmas was also a time to wear new clothes to church.
I remember as a child meeting a young village boy on Christmas morning while I walked home from church with my aunt and sister. He lived with his mother, grandmother, and two younger siblings and attended the village school. He was barefoot but running really fast, and as he approached us, he slowed down, and we exchanged Christmas greetings. He stopped, and with a great deal of excitement, he shared his Christmas story with us. They had run out of salt on Christmas Day! So he had been sent to borrow some salt from a neighbor for his grandmother. It is common in Zimbabwe for families to send their children to a neighbor for a cup of sugar, corn meal, or salt.
We girls from the city marveled at the simple joys of Christmas that brought forth such excitement in him. His daily chores on Christmas Eve were no different from any other day. He let out the cows from the cattle pen, fetched drinking water from the communal well and gathered firewood before joining other children for a bath in the river. Come evening, they went around the village sharing the joy of Christmas through song. On Christmas Day, he helped his mother and grandmother prepare an elaborate Christmas dinner. He always wished for relatives from the city who would bring all sorts of goodies for him and his family to enjoy.
On the other hand, Christmas in the village for my sister and me was a mere adventure that was quickly forgotten once we were back in the hustle and bustle of the big city. This young village boy, who had very little, looked content, happy, and bubbling with energy and joy. He was to us the real face and spirit of Christmas.
One congregation that I know of has started an initiative that aims to replace consumption with compassion by urging its members to consider donating one quarter of their Christmas budget towards the building of a village well.
Jesus reminded us of our responsibilities towards each other when He said:
Matthew 5:13a - You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can it’s saltiness be restored?
Dear Lord, bless all the children around the world now and at Christmastime. May Christ's birth, a gift of life to mankind, remind us of Your unconditional love and grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.