The New Times (Kigali)

26 December 2012

Rwanda: Message of Redemption As Christians Celebrate Christmas

Thousands of Christians in Kigali City, just like in other parts of the world, converged in their respective churches as part of celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

In Kigali, various preachers urged their flock to not only rely solely on worldly festivities, but to remember and respect the will of Jesus who saved the humanity from sin and eternal death.

Most evangelists said that it was routine that people just go to church on the morning of Christmas Day as a habit and after wards continue with their planned celebratory activities, without spiritually assessing themselves, which they said was the most important way of commemorating the birth of the Christ.

At Restoration Church Remera, commonly known as Casa Bonita, instead of the four services usually held on Sundays, they had two.

The celebrations at the church consisted of praise and worship, baptism of 30 followers, offering gifts to 300 children of the Sunday school, donating clothing to the needy from Ruyenzi, in Kamonyi district among other activities, that aimed at ensuring that the day is not only celebrated by those with the means alone.

Sylvie Colvelyn and her family from Belgium, who celebrated the day with Restoration Church said; "We came to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. After this, we will meet friends and family with whom we shall share food and drinks".

In her preaching, Pastor Laurette Mbuyi said; "imagine yourself living in a ramshackle house and a deplorable life, then a top government official, for instance opts to come and stay with you in that poverty. That's what Jesus did; he accepted to be God among us the poor."

Quoting from the book of Luke, Mbuyi insisted that sending Jesus to the world was God's way of taking care of humanity, saving mankind that was lost.

From this note, she recommended the followers to not attach much interest to physical festivities "because Jesus did not come to give us food, but to save us from sin; we have the responsibility to preach that gospel instead".

At Regina Pacis, the Remera Catholic church "Gloria" was the prime theme of the choir clothed in blue-white robe, the conventional color of Mary, Mother of Jesus.

The decoration which included a blend of colors of the national flag, and that of the Catholic Church (white and yellow) surrounded the massive church that is based in Remera and the morning Kinyarwanda service attracted people estimated at 3,000.

"We know of some dormant Christians who show up on Christmas and disappear afterwards," cautioned Father Anicet Setako of the Jesuits Congregation who presided over English mass, which followed the Kinyarwanda one.

Setako challenged his congregation to take this day as a period of reflection and repentance.

"I agree it is time to celebrate together because one cannot enjoy Christmas without sharing, but worldly celebration should not be priority; strive for peace and justice because Jesus himself is a king of justice and this is paramount," he said.

Having celebrated Christmas more than 70 times, Agnes Nyiramana, 78, seems to understand this inner festivity.

Before the service she had silently recited her rosary at the church premises.

"I am here to celebrate the salvation Jesus gave me. After this, I will go home, continue praying for salvation. I will enjoy food and drinks if I can afford but what is most important for me is to observe God's Ten Commandments."

A visit to another church - Bibare Pentecostal Church - located in Remera, the congregation that convened here for Christmas was estimated at1,500.

Pastor Aaron Mucyamura said "Christians are consumed by celebrations on Christmas; some go to celebrate with their family upcountry while others stay at home cooking for their domestic banquet and little attention is given to the spiritual life."

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