The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
This verse from the Holy Bible in Isaiah 9:2 was at the key message to Christians at St Etienne Anglican Church in Kigali during the Christmas Day service yesterday.
Like everywhere in the world, Christians in Rwanda on Monday flocked churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus who became the savior of the World, as written in the scriptures.
“To us, a son is born and to us a son is given by God the prince of peace,” Christians sang at Saint Etienne, which also doubles as the Anglican Cathedral.
Presiding over the Christmas Mass, Bishop Louis Muvunyi told the congregation of hundreds that Christmas was time to reflect on ‘the humblest’ decision Jesus took to come on earth and be born in human flesh.
He urged Christians to pray that God reminds them of the love by Jesus and to redeem the church and keep interceding for them.
“Forgive our sins oh lord as we celebrate; we pray to you to be with us, remind us who we are and help us change positively,” he prayed.
“God sent His son to the world for a reason, he wanted to redeem us, to save us, to make us born again, this was the humblest thing, God came at our level so that his love could connect to us, may God’s salvation redeem us,” he prayed.
At the Remera-based Regina Pacis, the Catholic Church was packed to the brim for the first mass and those who came late had to follow the liturgy from outside.
Emmanuel Rushigajiki, who was the main celebrant, encouraged the congregation to always remember that the birth of Jesus was their way to be saved and do the righteous, as they prepare journey to heaven.
“Let the celebrations of the birth of Jesus be an opportunity for us to renew our relationship with him and with the community around us, let’s pray for peace and for love of the good and detest the devil and ensure we are on the way to heaven,” he said
Christians also flocked Saint Michel, the Catholic cathedral and visiting Father Jean-Baptiste Ganza who presided over the English service preached about the existence of Jesus even before he was sent to earth.
He described Jesus as the light that illuminated the world and urged Christians to shun the devil as it can bring back the darkness.
He described today’s darkness as conflict, sickness and asked them to do well so that they let Jesus shine
“Jesus is word and was there before; he is the light that shone on earth to do away with darkness. However, darkness prevails even today; it manifests in evils that we see breaking up our families and communities. Let us distance ourselves from such and embrace light,” he added.
Christians speak out
Christians who spoke to The New Times expressed joy and said Christmas is a time for them to celebrate the fact that they have got a redeemer and renew their commitment to do well and help the needy.
“I am delighted to celebrate Christmas again; this is the ample time to reflect on Jesus’ love. It is our time to pay back by caring for and loving the needy,” said Margaritte Mukandinda who congregated at Sainte Famille Church.
“Let’s learn to share, care with those in need,” Caroline Ndinya a member of catholic church at Saint Michel said.
The same message was echoed at Pentecostal churches across Kigali.
At the Rwanda Association of Pentecostal Churches (ADEPR) Nyarugenge Parish in Kigali, Theophilus Kayiranga, a Senior Pastor told thousands that Christmas is the time they should reflect on the love of Jesus Christ who was born and grew to save humankind by embracing humility, which he said was a catalyst for a society to live in peace.
He noted that during Christmas and New Year festive season, Christians should follow Jesus Christ’s good example and help the vulnerable, noting that it’s time for those who have food to share with their neighbours, for those with fortunes to support the needy so as to build a united society with firm cohesion in Jesus.
“During festive seasons, people are busy taking care of themselves, being avid, yet they do not give attention to social relationship or taking care of the poor,” he said.
“We want people to be awakened, to know that life does not consist of looking for money or self-interest only, rather understand that there are those who have problems, such as the poor, the patients, who you should help as Jesus did,” he observed.
Preaching at ADEPR Cyahafi, Viateur Murekezi, Senior Pastor at the Parish pointed out that Christmas is the time when everyone should strive to have Jesus born in their hearts so that he forgives their sins, and that they receive him as the King and savior, for them to become new creatures guaranteed of everlasting life.
For him, people should not have greediness, or selfishness to accumulate all the property to themselves, rather share with others.
“When you bear good fruits, you should know that the means, and whatever fortunes that you have, you got them from God, and that one day will come when you will draw your last breath and leave them. So, every time, you should share such possessions with others. We therefore teach Christians and other people who have goods to share with those who have not so that they enjoy together.
Speciose Mukarusanga, who played from ADEPR Rugando Parish in Gasabo District, told The New Times that Christmas is a good time for people to think about the love of Jesus Christ who accepted unbearable suffering through crucifixion on the cross to save people and forgive them their sins, and give such love value by loving one’s neighbour.
“We get good lessons for love, kindness, and humility from Jesus, which Christians should emulate,” she said noting that people should purify their hearts and support one another.
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25, as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of believers around the world.
It is a day of prayer, celebrations, gift-giving, family cohesion and other social events.