With age, maturity, and responsibility, I have become very unexcited by the frivolous activities associated with Christmas celebrations.
First of all, the home is empty. We just had one visitor, at the time of writing, on the day. Secondly, with the fear of diabetes, atherosclerosis, and stroke, you can’t eat as you would want to eat. The fear of cholesterol and sugar, they now say, is the beginning of good health. In a short time we will be sentenced to eating only vegetables like herbivorous animals.
So, what have I learnt from Christmas?
1. Creative destruction (Title of a great book by Tobi Dafe)
For a prophecy of several centuries to take place, there has to be a lot of creative destruction and disruption that happened.
Joseph’s engagement was hijacked. Imagine your fiancée you have not had sex with getting pregnant. Would you have believed the message Joseph got in his dream? It required great discipline for Joseph and Mary to restrain themselves from sexual relationship after the angel spoke to them.
Birthing Christ required a lot of self-restraint. Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, but Joseph and Mary were located in Nazareth; it required another upheaval and creative destruction to move them to Bethlehem. There was a decree for people to go their places of origin to be counted.
There are disruptions and changes that might look unpleasant in your life that are the processes of fulfilling your purpose.
2. The journey to Bethlehem was tedious
According to CatholicIreland.net, it is about 130km from Nazareth. According to D. Kelly Ogden, who personally took the route some years back, the rate of travel with a donkey or camel is 3 miles per hour. The journey would have taken about 5 days for Mary at term with her pregnancy. If it was in December, it could have been very cold. If it was in September/ October, it would have been very hot during the day.
Could you have borne the heat or the cold? Can you travel with your “pregnancy” through the heat or cold to deliver your “Jesus“? Would you not have complained why God did not arrange for transport for you to Bethlehem?
Imagine the quarrel I would have had with my wife along the journey. Some young men would have abandoned Mary to her fate; after all, he was not responsible for the pregnancy.
3. The crowd will leave a Joseph and Mary
According to the authorities quoted earlier on, they traveled as a group, most likely for security reasons. Remember the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the man who was robbed along this same road. It is believed that good people took care of them during the journey as a group. However, when they got to Bethlehem each family went to their own ancestral home.
But they were descendants of David, a former king. Why were they not accommodated? Why did God not book accommodation? Why did God not speak to someone to vacate a room for them? After all, it was an angel that spoke to Mary, and later Joseph.
4. The journey from Jericho to Jerusalem is a very winding and steep climb.
It is a height of 3,500ft. Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, has a series of steps from the bottom layer of the city to the Presidential Palace; it is a height of 1,500ft. I have not dared to climb it. The day I looked down from the Presidential Palace towards the stadium, I was dizzy.
Imagine Mary, with the pregnancy of Jesus, looking at Bethlehem up there. She was used to Jerusalem without pregnancy because of their annual pilgrimage. But from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is another 10km.
Are you ready to make the climb to your destination? Will you climb the extra 10km to your Bethlehem?
5. Jesus was not borne in a maternity
He was born in a manger. Would the average young girl of today not have complained? The angel did not help Mary to push in labour. There were no relatives or neighbours. They dared to walk alone with their dreams.
6. Joseph had to escape to Egypt at night with Jesus
Imagine the stress Joseph went through with a child that was not his own. One would have thought that God would have blessed Joseph exceedingly. There is no record of that, however.
The irony is that Joseph died, most likely, before the age of 70 years. If Joseph married at about 30 years of age, he must have been 60 years old when Jesus started ministry at age 30; no mention was made of Joseph. He must have died much earlier, despite all his sacrifices in berthing Jesus.
The choice of Mary and Joseph in the birthing and berthing of Christmas can be summarized with the following C’s:
1. Character—discipline and self restraint
2. Capacity to handle challenges
3. Cooperation between two of them
4. Commitment to each other and to your purpose
These are the traits we need as people to ask God for creative destruction and change in our lives and in Nigeria. Change is very uncomfortable and disruptive.
These are the things our youths need to bring out a new Nigeria. These are the issues we should emphasize during this Christmas. The commercialization of Christmas and the excessive hedonistic activities turn the pyramid of Christmas on its head.
All the turbulence of Boko haram, herdsmen crisis, economic crisis, Buhari and Atiku presidential head-to-head, and all that will happen in 2019, might just be a process of birthing and berthing a new Nigeria. Our country Nigeria is going through one of the most disruptive and turbulent times in our national history.
“People are going back to their places of birth to be counted”. Ethnic tensions and regional inclinations are at a level we have hardly experienced since the civil war ended. Political gerrymandering is at its peak in recent months. Terms like islamization of Nigeria became more frequently used in our daily talks. Ethnic cleansing suddenly reared its ugly head in the northern parts of Nigeria. For the first time, Nigerian territories are being occupied. There are internally displaced people like Mary and Joseph.
The birth of Jesus attracted so much fear from the reigning king such that innocent children were slaughtered. I fear for the nation because of the 2019 elections. There is so much tension in the political atmosphere.
My prayer is that the purpose of God be actualized.
God Bless You and Compliments of the Season.