Thursday, 9 January 2014

Emmanuel, God With Us!(?)



Emmanuel, God with us!(?)
In Christian cosmology, the birth of Jesus Christ, which is celebrated at Christmas, manifested the incarnation of God to the entirety of humanity; an event which actually took effect when the Angel Gabriel visited the Blessed Virgin Mary with the news that she had found favour with God and was to be the mother of God the Son on earth. Mary, after the initial shock and apprehension, considering the fact that she was a virgin and had known no man, submitted herself totally to the will of God, inspite of what the society would think of her being pregnant before wedlock, with those profound words: “behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to Thy word”. From that moment of declared submission, the Word of God became incarnate – in other words, took flesh – in her womb. He was named Emmanuel, which means God with Us, for He was God physically amongst men. Today, His presence is real in a special manner that only faith can percieve, accept and believe.
Living in today’s world poses a great challenge to the fact of Emmanuel, God with us. With all the crises that have come to define this age, sometimes one is tempted to really question the existence of God: wars are ravaging different corners of our earth, and these wars are quite senseless. Man has redefined the concept of truth to pursue his self-seeking motives, challenging natural laws and order thus, pushing the concept of the divine even further into abysmal recesses.
Inspite of the apparent and professed commitment to religion and faith, Nigeria is probably one country where God has has been so compartmentalised such that one looks around and wonders if it is really still Emmanuel. This reality has so taken hold of the Nigerian society to the extent even the Christian Church has dethroned the very God that it has set out to proclaim – whether it realises it or not remains another question. One only needs to switch on one’s TV to watch the many a man of God who has turned the pulpit into some circus of sorts, seeking to impress viewers and followers alike. These men of God have totally enthroned mammon and use every means possible to feed from the trough of this god. The name Jesus is employed to further this end and this end only.
Because of listening to these preachers and being daily bombarded with their messages, many Nigerians have lost their sense of social justice, if they ever had one, and many yet are growing up without any. People have become so concerned about the self and nothing more. The Christian vocation to solidarity with the rest of humanity, especially the less priviledged and those in need, no longer makes sense and so one hears such slogans as “it’s my year of abundance”, “it’s my turn to shine”, “ it is my… it is my… it is my…” and so on. People never pay heed to the extent of damage that such messages inflict on their Christian calling subliminally and before they know what is happening, they have been disembowelled of their humanity. No wonder we have the kind of politicians that we do today in Nigeria. No wonder we have the kind of leadership that we have had in this country. It is now all about the self and, tragically, the Church whose purview it is to provide the moral compass out of this morass lacks the standing because, now more than ever, it has depleted that precious capital by feeding from Mammon’s trough. Indeed one cannot be faulted for asking if God is still with us; if it is still Emmanuel.
But all hope is not lost. Did Isaiah the prophet not say of the birth the Messiah “the people that walk darkness have seen a great light”? Did the heavenly host of angels on the night of Jesus’ birth not burst forth in glorious singing “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to PEOPLE OF GOODWILL”? No matter how few they are, these people of goodwill will have the final word. As hopeless as the situation looks, the people of goodwill only have to stand up and talk the talk and the walk the talk; that way this country will be redeemed. It can be as simple as trashing your rubbish properly or as taking your civic resposibility seriously. It can be as simple as struggling not to shunt traffic in hold-ups: simple as it is, this can test one’s calling to human solidarity and justice, for you will stick to your lane and feel very stupid that you are doing the right thing; but that is the cross one is called to bear.
As we celebrate this Christmas, may we be reminded that any life that is not conscious of and responsive to the reality of the other is not worth living. That is the only way that we can bring to manifestation the fact and truth of Emmanuel, God with us.
Merry Christmas
 

(Published on BLUEPRINT Newspaper, Thursday Dec 26, 2013)

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