As Rwandan’s celebrate Christmas today, various religious leaders have urged them to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday as a time for reconciliation and to pursue peace.
High profile religious leaders from different denominations interviewed by the The New Times said that Christmas is not only festive, but also a time to develop humans better.
“The important thing is not what day Jesus Christ was born, He was born some day and finished his mission, it should be a day to remind us to ask ourselves whether our mission will be accomplished,” Jane Kanyange, a Senior Pastor of Prayer Palace Church Remera said. She added that Christmas should not be for over spending but a day of accountability and planning for the next year.
“When He was ascending to heaven, He never told us to celebrate His birthday but to preach the gospel,” Kanyange added.
She pointed out that instead of praying, reconciliation, and family union, many people end up in evil acts that cause them sickness like HIV/Aids or unwanted pregnancies.
“Teenagers spend nights outside, parents stay awake because of their children, women stay worried waiting for their husbands who went for celebrations, family gathering has lost meaning, the day has just been abused,” Kanyange lamented.
The Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Saleh Harelimana, said Islam does not to celebrate Christmas because it is not anywhere in Quran the Islamic holy book.
But he however advised Muslims to socialise with their Christian friends or family members if they invite them to share what they have prepared.
“We know Jesus Christ as prophet Issa and respect him, but in Islam we don’t celebrate birthdays, even the birth of our prophet Mohammed is not celebrated,” the Mufti told The New Times Yesterday.
He added that December 27(identified as 1st Muharam in Islam) will be the beginning of Islamic New Year 1430 of Hijri basing on the Gregorian calendar.
Paul Gitwaza of Zion Temple, Kicukiro said that God’s plan is to lift seemingly despised people or places. Giving an example of Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, Gitwaza said that God is choosing Rwanda to shine to the world.
“Rwanda may look tiny, and her citizens despised but God is with them,” Gitwaza said in an interview from his office.
Like Kanyange, Gitwaza also said that Christmas is a day of reconciliation between man and God and Man to Man with the spirit of sharing- the rich remembering the unprivileged and the poor getting a sense of belonging. He added that Christmas should be a lesson to everybody to pursue peace and love for one another.
Quoting the Bible in the book of Luke, Bishop Emmanuel Kolini of Anglican Church said Christmas is about the good news of the saviour who brings joy.
“People have not understood Christmas because they have not yet known Jesus Christ, he had a name like other kings with a specific mission, what matters is work not just celebrating,” Bishop Kolini explained.
Noting that Jesus Christ was prophesied as a prince of peace to save the world, bring hope, joy and healing, Bishop Kolini emphasised that Jesus Christ came to take away evil and install good values.
He however reminded Rwandans that peace is a process, and that when you are asleep the enemy does not sleep and your peace can be taken away as he gave the example of the arrest of Rose Kabuye.
“We have to know that our dignity, sovereignty as a nation is in our hands and we have to fight for it, we are definitely celebrating with Rose Kabuye’s family, like Europeans believe Christmas is a reunion of families,” Koline added.
Pastor Amon Rugelinyange former president of the Adventist church in Rwanda said the celebration of Christmas should not be one day in a year but every single second one breathes.
Even though Adventist Church does not have a special celebration for Christmas, Rugelinyage said that whoever knows Jesus Christ should remember His birthday habitually.