Christmas messages

Faith leaders share their reflections on the festive period

‘We can share what we’ve been blessed with’

Muyiwa Olarewaju, singer/songwriter, pre- senter of the Turning Point TV show and sta- tion director at Premier Gospel.

MY EARLIEST memories of Christmas are of parties thrown by my parents Kayode Karimu and Sola Olatundun Olarewaju for disadvantaged children in Africa.

Muyiwa Olarewaju

I didn’t grow up with the idea that it was a period where I was to expect, or be entitled to, presents. I grew up knowing it was a time to share the great benefits that I had enjoyed all year and I never felt denied in any way.
In this day and age, we have become so ac- customed to taking from people and feel up- set if we don’t get as much as attention on our social platforms, forgetting that the person who the season is about has more followers than all of us put together and doesn’t have as much as a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit or LinkedIn account.

Can I encourage us all to look outside of ourselves and for who and where we can share the great benefits we have been bless- ed with. It’s easy to say ‘I have my own problems and don’t have enough’. Remember there are billionaires and millionaires that are terribly unhappy with their lives – it’s not what you have on the outside, but who you have on the inside. I have two sons aged nine and 11 and they can’t watch the Children in Need campaign without emptying their piggy banks.

Dare to give even the little you have, and show greater love in this season and the New Year.

‘While many consider what will they get, my concern is: what more can I give?’

Karen Allen, preacher, public speaker and community champion.

AS WE enjoy Christmas, the close of the year and the end of a decade, my thoughts are almost consumed by the speed at which time is moving and the true essence of life being a vapour.

Karen Allen

The new year is virtually upon us and many people have turned their attention towards their ‘vision’, focusing on reaching targets, setting goals, fulfilling dreams, etc. My thoughts, however, are elsewhere. Having lost my baby brother around this time last year, my views on the season have altered somewhat. Also, as a single mother of five, while many are considering what will they get, my concern is: what more can I give? What more of my time, talent or treasure can I give to my family, friends and community?

I think now more than ever the reality of sudden death has given me an appreciation and determination to truly live my life. Motivational speaker Les Brown eloquently sums up my mission for the next chapter. I fully intend to “live full and die empty” and would encourage others to do likewise. 2020 will be the year where I will look back and confi- dently say I did everything God purposed me to do.

Where I succeed I will embrace the triumph and where I fail I can say at least I tried.

‘This Christmas will mark the end of one decade, and also marks the start of a new one’

Pastor Peter Nembhard, Senior Pastor, ARC Group of Churches.

CHRISTMAS IS always a busy time for churches. There’s usually lots of events and activity – whether it is members celebrating the season with those within their ministry departments, or people finding special ways to be a blessing to the community by holding special services or giving gifts and much needed items to those in need.

Pastor Peter Nembhard

For me, the great thing about Christmas is that it gives the church another opportunity to turn a spotlight onto the amazing story of Christ’s birth and reminds everyone that it’s a sign God is with us, and that He desires His creation to experience, peace, joy and hope, and also longs for humanity to build a better world and enjoy a closer relationship with Him.

This Christmas season is particularly special because it will mark the end of one decade, and the start of 2020 – a new decade. I pray that the forthcoming New Year and decade provides new opportunities for all of us to become better people who’ll make that effort to serve our churches, family and communities selflessly and to make renewed efforts to fulfil our potential to become all that God’s called us to be.

‘Remember who you’re celebrating and pray for those less fortunate’

Reverend Jacqueline Peart.

BLESSINGS AND Christmas greetings to all The Voice readers. I want to ask a question – what does Christ- mas mean to you?

Reverend Jacqueline Peart

For some it’s about the turkey, mince pies, parties, Christmas trees, games and the Queen’s Speech. For others, it’s about family and the exchanging of gifts. That’s why this year, amidst all of the things that Christmas has become to so many, let us remember the true meaning – it is the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Isaiah 9: 6-7 (as translated by BibleGateway. com) says: “For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world.

His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.”

We also want to be aware of some of the trends that increase at Christmas, such as debt, abuse and loneliness. So, as you celebrate this year, remember who you’re celebrating and say a prayer for those less fortunate, like the homeless, children in care or hospital, the elderly, those alone, etc.

As we look to 2020, we are expecting our best year yet, as a ministry we are preparing and being intentional about seeing God change lives! I don’t know what 2019 was like for you, whether it was littered with challenges or successes, yet what I do know is – in 2020 you can change (transform and shift) for the better through Jesus Christ!

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