Kigali-based pastors have given different views about Christmas celebrations in Rwanda.
Generally, a number of the pastors we spoke on Christmas and yesterday, observed that Rwandans have misapprehensions about the meaning of Christmas and so is Boxing Day.
Most of the pastors suggested that Rwandans have forgotten the real essence of Christmas but celebrate it by spending heavily like they do on New Year’s Day (Bonn Ane). They said Rwandans celebrate New Year’s Day more that Christmas, adding that Christmas started getting some attention locally after 1994 Genocide by few people from different Commonwealth countries.
Pastor Jane Kanyange of Prayer Palace Church, Remera.
For her, Christmas is not about eating, drinking and time for spending a lot of money; it is a day that every Christian should be reminded that Jesus Christ incarnated to save mankind. She said Boxing Day is a day of coming down to the poor and give them gifts as a sign of love.
“This Jesus Christ we celebrate came when no one listened to him; people did not understand him. This generation should understand that Jesus Christ humbled himself with a purpose and He will come as a king to judge; He left us with a task of unity, reconciliation and loving each other,” she indicated.
She remarked that poverty and spiritual emptiness cause people to respond to the lusts of the fresh other than real meaning of Christmas and Boxing Day. She said it is easy for the needy and the depressed to think of food and drinks and the well-off to spend money with their families and ignore the meaning of Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations.
“That is why on Christmas at our church we share food and drinks immediately after the sermons. People of high class and the poor come together to share that special meal,” she said. She added that it is Biblical for high priests to give back to the congregation the offerings and tithes they offer in the church.
Pastor Patrick Twagirayezu of Calvary Temple, Kimironko
He said Christmas reminds him of Jesus Christ’s miraculous birth which means more than over-eating and over-spending.
“Jesus Christ is different from other prophets. His birth was predicted by the angels, He came to restore humanity,” Twagirayezu said.
He added that people should celebrate Christmas and Boxing Day with the sense of humbling and reconciling themselves.
Pastor Steven Gashumba of Rwanda for Jesus Church, Kicukiro
He observed that Rwandans don’t celebrate Christmas as compared to other countries.
“To me Christmas is like other days, I don’t see in the Bible the date 25th December, but what I know Jesus Christ was born. Importantly HE should be born in their lives so as to get a true meaning of celebrating Christmas,” the humorous Gashumba said.
Pastor Charles Mugisha of African New Life Church, Remera
He charged that Rwanda has low recognition of Christmas celebration.
“There are European countries that don’t know “God” but they celebrate (X-mas) more than in Rwanda. In the US, it is commercialised though, but in Rwanda it is the day where church attendance is not great, Rwandan recognition goes to the New Year,” he said.
Pastor Sam Mugisha of the Anglican Church St Ettienne, Biryogo said that Christmas recognition is just starting, basing on what he watched on Rwandan Television (TVR) this time round.
“Rwandans traditionally recognise New Year mostly but they also try (to celebrate Xmas),” he said.