PASTORAL LETTER FROM REV JOSEPH TEMBO 2nd DECEMBER 2020

REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS FROM HOME FAR AWAY

How do you remember Christmas, and what is your personal experience of it?

As for me, two things stand out from a country that is economically among the poorest in the world, even though it is among the richest in terms of its citizens, most of their traditions, majority culture and raw natural resources.

The country I am speaking of is Zambia. Growing up there during the time the economy was good, to say the least; a time when we never went hungry, but had three or even four meals to properly call “square meals”, with a lot of in between and post meal foods and drinks like organically grown groundnuts, gourds which we call mphonda, pumpkins we call matanga, sweet potatoes, cassava we call nyimbula; then there was chiwaya which is fried dry maize, not quite popcorn, but close. Added to these and many more were mangoes, masuku, nthuja or nthumbulwa, kasokolowe and makole. What’s that!? This is the reason why you must make Zambia your choice tourist destination when Covid-19 has been dealt with decisively.

Of course, there are people in Zambia who still afford to have four square meals. For most of the people who afford these meals the extras tend to be food like crisps, biscuits, sweets, ice cream; and yes, for some of them it will be fruit.

All this thrown in, the two foremost things that stood out and still do about Christmas in Zambia are:

  1. The recognition, knowledge, and acknowledgment that Christmas is the day to celebrate the birth of the Son of God Jesus Christ. Naturally, people went to Church as part of that acknowledgement of Jesus’ birth.
  2. Christmas is a time for giving. And because of this, young people in particular would greet adults with “Happy Christmas” and expect to be given some Ngwee coins which were enough to buy balloons and fireworks or bubble or gum chewing gum we used to call “chingamu” or “chungamu”.

Now to crown it all, families, communities and companies put on Christmas parties where nearly everyone in the neighbourhood could take part, except some gated places, obviously. People would dance to Christian religious music as well as to cultural music about Christmas and about everyday life.

We were also very happy at Christmas to receive other family members like cousins, uncles, grandparents, brothers and sisters, children of our parents’ siblings who had come to be with us from their homes or from the villages.

REMEBERING CHRISTMAS FROM HOME FAR AWAY feels really warm.

It will be really good to hear from you what you remember about Christmas, maybe in contrast to today’s commercially oriented Christmas where on TV or Radio there is zero mention of Jesus in relation to Christmas; and without shame some have decided to forego calling Christmas “Christmas” and now call it “holidays”.  The abuse of God and the Son of God couldn’t get worse! I mean, why not call it “Happy Christmas Holidays”? Leaving Christmas out or to unpack this a bit, Christ-mas, makes the “Happy Holidays” business meaningless as you lose the background to the “holidays”.

Anyway, this is about sharing REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS FROM HOME FAR AWAY, which for some the “far away” bit could not necessarily be geographically, by in terms of the time of years long ago or last year.

Have a great Christmas! I say so because much as a lot has changed, including the heartbreaks that many of us have suffered this year, the single most important thing about Christmas has not changed, not a bit. Its message from heaven remains “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2.14)

I hope you enjoy my reminiscing.

In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                             Joseph

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