A Real Christmas Joy
By Lunminthang Haokip
Advent Christmas, 2010: The month of December, for every Christian is hectic with capital H. But I did not expect my world to be so joyously filled with back to back events this year round. As scheduled in my itinerary, Advent Christmas celebrations were conducted at three places of my frequent visits.
The first meeting was held at my ancestral village, L. Thinglhangphai, the second at Myanmar’s (Burma) north western township, Tamu, and the third at Manipur’s border town, Moreh. It was carols and the word of God all the way. The Lord was the shepherd indeed.
L.T Phai Meeting: On 11 December 2010, the weather was limping back to a sunny day from a three day continuous drizzle in the preceding days. The backblock village, which also headquarters GGMI – Go Gospel Ministry, International, is situated 80 kilometres south of Imphal. The pastoral rural settlement lies on the fringe of the fertile Serou valley just about one and a half kilometres from Chakpi river over which the longest bridge in Manipur is under construction.
Once the NEC-funded riverside flyover is opened for traffic, which hopefully will happen in March next year, nothing can stop domestic tourists from visiting the picturesque location in hordes. It will be joy to the region.
Gospel Blast: At 11 am on 11 December 2010, the otherwise quite village became alive with gospel music. NJT hall of the area was almost full. In between gospel messages preached with renewed vigour by this author and pastor Prakash of LEF, Imphal centre, top-notch gospel crooners from Aizawl and Manipur sang carols that went down well from one’s soul to sole. C. Lalhmingmawii who earned the acronym of AVZ – Amazing voice of Zoram, sang Go Gospel number with unreserved passion.
Hlutei from Aizawl, a YWAM – Youth With a Mission–trained singer, enthralled YWNM –Youth with No Mission – with her popular renditions. Hechin Haokip, an accredited Kuki Gospel crooner, also sang and moved hearts with her chart-rocking songs. It was joyous carols all the turns.
12 December 2010: The hall in the premises of IBC –Immanuel Baptist Church – Tamu was packed to the brim by 11:30 hours. The gospel trio of Mami, Hlutei and Hechin sang heart-softening numbers that prepared the audience for the main message. They were joined by Esther Sitlhou, the local voice of grace, in the combined Advent Christmas Worship Service of Tamu. Solo numbers were calculatingly used as baits for folks across the border to take the word whole. Following IBC choir’s group song, this author spoke on the importance of the birth of Christ.
The Sermon: It went on after prayer. Men were separated from God due to the breaking of the creator’s commandment. Curse came upon mankind through the disobedience of the first parents. Sin was so serious an issue that it cost nothing lesser than God’s only son Jesus to take birth as a man, suffered as a man and died as a man so that humankind may settle the sin-factor by accepting Him as their Lord and saviour. Through Him the world came to know the saving grace of God, the father, which hitherto was left to man’s imagination.
Moreh Meeting: On the same day, in the evening service of Lutheran Church, Moreh, this author spoke again on the purpose of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem. God provided a remedy for the malady called sin. It was Jehovah’s way of showering mercy to an un-deserving world devoid of righteousness. Man could not save himself. Sin is not something soap and detergent powder can rinse away.
All the other earthly problems we struggle with are nothing in comparison. The Bible says, the price of sin is death. That means eternal burn in hellfire. Through the birth of our Lord, God offered a way out. The four gospels represent completeness like the four corners and directions of the earth – north, south, east and west. Jesus is the saviour. He alone can save completely from any type of sin.
“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).”
Total Safety: Money may save one from poverty. Houses can save from severity of weather. Guns may save from real or imagined fear. But at the end of life, when a human being is about to become a human-been with fear of eternal death gnawing at the vitals, it is only total trust in the saviour Jesus and confession of sin that is going to save him for ever. Whether we appreciate it or not, that is what God had made clear for sin-burdened mortals through the scripture. There is no alternative solution to sin-problem.
Real Christmas: In Christmas season, spiritual ignorance makes many to eat, shop and hop from one pleasure trip to another. A Christmas celebration without Christ has become kind of fashionable. Frills like Santa Claus, Christmas tree, Christmas cake, Christmas parties and Lenkhom jokes are nothing but shallow deterrents to the essence of true Christmas spirit.
A deeper look and read at the life of Jesus who did not carry two pairs of dress, sandals etc. who had to hire a donkey for His last journey, fish for coins to pay tax and who had no burial place, will wake us up from our spiritual stupor. Only then will the inner man experience real joy. Any other way of celebrating Christmas will end up in sorrow. God meant Christmas to be “Joy to the world.”
The writer is additional deputy commissioner posted at Moreh, Manipur (India).