Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Message from BISHOP PUSHPALALITHA

I greet you all in the Mighty name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose birthday we will be celebrating soon. I wish that the Christ Child will kindle and enlighten our hearts to feel and experience the blessings, message and joy of Christmas.

Christmas is a unique, universal and joyous festival which everybody will celebrate it with great passion and with all reverence irrespective of caste, creed, religion, and status particularly in rural areas. At this juncture, I would like to share one of my experience in this regard as to how it happens in my native village Diguvapadu in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. On the eve of Christmas on 24th December night procession of the Holy Cross of the Church will be taken by singing Christmas Carols in the village and all the people belonging to all communities will be waiting at their door steps to receive the cross with Reverence and faith and garland the cross and wash the feet of the cross bearer and seek blessings. It is not out of place to mention here that my brother Y.Jaya Raju was the cross bearer since the age of 5 to 18 years in my village. Their own religion does not matter here, but it is a matter of faith. Likewise whether they are rich or poor or belongs to lower or higher caste looses their significance, but receive the cross with a hope that God will bless them and fulfill their desires. After I became priest, I visited my native place which was in my pastorate and still found the same tradition was being followed with much renewed faith and reverence by all the communities. I asked one of the woman belonging to higher caste who was at her door step to receive the cross, “why should you wait for such long time, you can as well ask your form servant to receive the cross and garland it”, then she replied that she do not want miss the opportunity of getting blessings and share Christmas Joy with the procession reaching her house. That’s how Christmas or the Birth of Christ has become a universal celebration with faith proving that the Lord Jesus is God of All (Acts.10:36).
Christmas is nothing but “the Word became flesh”. The Word is God Himself. God was not satisfied by sending a message of salvation through somebody to the people on the earth. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; and all things were made through Him and apart from Him nothing was made which was made...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn.1: 1-3, 14) The name ‘Emmanuel’ name is given to our Lord from his nature, as "God manifest in the flesh." For this reason, He is called Emmanuel, "God with us." But with the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, Emmanuel, "God with Us," takes on a whole new meaning. For in the person of baby Jesus, God is "with us" means he is not only blesses us, but works through him to help, protect, and guide us in all aspects of life. His abundant love and compassion compelled Him to come down from heaven to the earth in order to save all mankind.

The present predicament and cry of humanity is that: Is there any hope for peace and happiness. The human life is disturbed and not in peace for many reasons like sin, poverty, sickness, loneliness’, broken relationships, hatred towards others and what not. With these pressures, the human kind is fast losing hope in life and searching for peace and tranquility, mental and temporal through various means. But the answer is that “The God is with us”, who came as Jesus to come to the rescue of mankind and give peace in the midst all the trials and tribulations and pressures, though they are betrayed by the circumstances and fellow human beings, but Jesus is always remained with his people as “Immanuel”. God Himself came to the world in flesh in the form of Jesus his own son in order to save the mankind from all sins and give salvation to them by being with them, this is the message of Christmas i.e., “God is with us” “Emmanuel” (Is 7:14). The Christmas i.e. the birth of Jesus signifies the living presence of the eternal, mighty God with his people.
The Christmas reminds us that God established His presence with us in the world through His son Jesus Christ. God desires a permanent and perpetual relationship with humanity i.e. with you and me. Everybody needs to have the same experience with God and fellow beings in celebrating the Birthday of Jesus Christ. So great was His love for His fallen creation, for you and for me that He left His glory to come here and born in a manger as ordinary human being by humbling Himself. And through His perfect life and death on the cross He broke down the wall of separation that our sin had built and reconciled us to Him; as it is written "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them." (2 Co. 5:19). Through Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, our sins are forgiven and we have fellowship with our Creator again.
In the name, “Emmanuel”, the mankind got everything it needs and God’s salvation as “God is with us” and we need not worry about anything in the world. How blessed we are that Jesus Christ became Emmanuel, God with us. The real Christmas is experiencing the presence of God and with His help we need to bridge, build and establish joyous relationships with peace and love by forgiving each other, within the family and with our fellow beings. May the Good Lord, the “EMMANUEL” grant and restore our relationships with Him and brotherhood and oneness in our Lord Jesus Christ among fellow human beings, with his eternal presence with us, giving hope for future peace and prosperity in our lives.

Bishop in Nandyal,
Diocese of Nandyal,
Church of South India.

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