By Deo Tumusiime
It was on December 25 last year, when the entire world joyously celebrated Jesus’ birth with pomp and glamour in many churches around the world.
For many, it is traditionally a moment to splurge some cash on lavish shopping and meals; while others use the occasion to catch up with lost relatives back in the villages. Indeed it is the birth of our Lord, and it surely comes bigger than any other birthday for us human beings-never mind the fact that Jesus may not necessarily have been born on exactly December 25!
Now, just as believers are beginning to play with the “newborn baby Jesus” at only three months, then comes the fasting season and immediately after, Jesus is killed and then he rises; it is surely Easter come too soon. I imagine that by the time Easter comes round, some churches even still have some of their Christmas decorations intact, and they only have to turn them into mourning momentarily, then celebration.
Well, while I can fairly understand the desire for Christians to commemorate the two major events in Jesus’ life on earth, I am worried that Christmas and Easter are just too close to fathom, and quite uneconomical too. Besides, I am even worried that Jesus might actually not be pleased by the entire drama surrounding the two events, which tend to remotely suggest that his journey was merely stage managed. Little wonder that when Christmas and Easter are out of the way, it is business as usual for many.
Yes, I think our mode of celebrating Jesus’ birth and death has evolved to become either showy or cultic or both. Think of this: A few years ago, I witnessed a woman in church on Good Friday, literally crying tears before Jesus’ cross and feeling so sorry that the son of God could be killed so cruelly. She cried and cried again; wailed and wailed again. Isn’t it unto such that Jesus said before his death, “Do not cry for me, but rather cry for yourselves and for your children”? The same woman will have perhaps touched and kissed the image of baby Jesus in her church on Christmas a few months back- and you can imagine the trauma all this causes.
But to me, the entire story of our very existence and Jesus’ journey is all a mystery; From the son of God being born by the power of the Holy Spirit, to his short spell on earth, his death at the hands of man and resurrection after three days. Therefore, to celebrate Jesus the way we conduct our human celebrations, is terribly an understatement and so is the business of having the same according to our calendar schedules. If we are called to share in Jesus’ wisdom, then we ought to know and appreciate, that holding two expensive parties too close is humanly undesirable and especially so, if they are merely for formality; annually observed!
I happened to pass at one of the bus parks in Kampala on Good Friday and found hapless passengers stuck with their luggage. Not only were buses few compared to the number of travelers, but the prices were hiked; some from sh20,000 to sh50,000. Ask these believers, and they will tell you they are going home for Easter! I nearly jumped out of my car to tell them to go back to their houses, for Jesus would find them there. Many of these will have just returned from the village for Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day three months ago. And the Bible says in Isaiah, “Why waste money on what does not satisfy?” All it takes to establish a healthy relationship with God is a mere change of heart.
Then someone asked, “But why is it that Jesus defeated death and yet people still die?” A friend of mine even suggested that Jesus’ principles were [and are] simply incompatible with the world, and that is why sin has persisted even after his death! Yes, unless people can change their hearts and follow the right path as is individually known to each one of us, then celebrating Jesus’ paths is a mere wastage of time and resources. For Jesus to be a true winner, he must win over your heart at a very personal level.
I watched as some bishops attempted to steal off a media moment by addressing journalists ahead of Easter and heard a few of the sermons. One of them mentioned about the ongoing National I.D registration saying it would help to curb crime in the country. Surely! So then Easter becomes a moment to make headlines! And I am sure deep in his heart, the Bishop knows that it takes more than a National ID to end crime. Then you had heads of the different Christian beliefs taking turns at Nakivubo Stadium to pray, blatantly acknowledging that even if they believe in the same Jesus under their umbrella of the Uganda Joint Christian Council, they practically disagree on some principles which have left the church perpetually divided into Rome and England, and what have you. So if after a hundred years the Church cannot unite into one and speak the same language, what are we still celebrating?
So, I strongly believe that if the commemoration of Jesus’ Birth and Jesus’ death is merely to fulfill a calendar programme, then one of the two occasions could be celebrated after a decade or two, and it would still come to the same! Perhaps the positive advantage of having Easter 10 years apart from Christmas is that one would have had ample time to undertake deliberate projects around one’s faith, and possibly give tangible accountability!
Did you just wish someone a “Happy Easter” just as you did with “Happy Christmas”! Ah, it takes more than just a wish to be Happy.
The writer is a communications consultant