Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Diocese of Harare
From the Bishop of Harare
P O Box HR 7331
5 December 2007
Bishop’s Christmas Message
“The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
These words from John’s gospel chapter 1 tell us about Jesus whose birthday we celebrate at this time. It tells us about his mission that was to create confusion but eventually transformed the salvation history of humanity. The world to which Jesus came was full of religious and political uncertainty. Sin had plunged humanity into the jungle where there was no clear direction to pursue. The world was left in permanent darkness. Ignorance and falsehood dominated people’s lives. Jesus as light exposed these self-serving falsehoods but the world refused to see this light.The opponents of Jesus who rejected him as light were not common criminals or notorious social deviants, or what one would call the povo today. To the contrary they were people who were held in high esteem in their society, honourable people respected and respectable. They did not reject Jesus or abuse him because they were fallible, ignorant or immoral by community standards, but exactly because they were the acknowledged and admired virtuous members of the community. Their objection was influenced by their social weaknesses which led them to defend their false ideology and selfishness. So they were unable to see Jesus as light and themselves as being in darkness.
In his book Sent from the Father, José Comblin says,
“The fourth gospel points out with conspicuous insistence the incomprehension of the Jews, no so as to condemn the Jews alone, but by them to exemplify humankind. If the Jews, who had received the sacred scriptures, could be so uncomprehending, how much blinder the rest of the world must be.”
Indeed our world today has continued to refuse to see or understand Jesus as the light of the world. Our world is dominated by false ideologies which give people illusionary hope for a better life. One sometimes wonders whether we in Zimbabwe are aware of the power that darkness has upon us. The power of darkness is visible where people live in fear, where violence prevails as well as a sense of hopelessness eventually pushing them into pessimism. If we are unable to acknowledge the power of darkness, we will also fail to see the light that the birth of Jesus brings into our world and nation.
John tells us in John chapter 1, verse 10:
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
Similarly we could say that people who refuse to see Jesus as the light that can destroy the power of darkness are the very people who call upon his name – God’s own – as John says.
At Christmas Jesus invites us to come to him and accept him so that he may lead us into the light of salvation. This is the time when we Christians have to diligently seek the manger where Jesus lies, like those wise men who were not Jews and who were led by a star to the stable after Mary and Joseph had been refused a room in the inn by their own people. How much do we accept one another to show that we are the light to the world? Unless we are one we continue to move in the jungle of darkness.
Paul in the first epistle to the Thessalonians chapter 5 says,
“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (vv 1-8 )
It is my wish and prayer that this Christmas may give you the ability to seek the light prayerfully, the light which is not far away from you but in your heart, the light that will enable you to become a light for others.
My wife and I wish you all a Blessed Christmas.
Yours in Christ
+ Sebastian Harare