Christmas festivities: Stay safe – Religious leaders urged

Some religious leaders have urged Ghanaians to stay safe and be cautious during the celebrations this Yuletide to avoid a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Omicron variant surges.
They said with the pandemic still lingering, the gift people could give one another was to be responsible for themselves and others by ensuring that they observed the protocols during gatherings.



Ghanaians should also get vaccinated against the disease in order to prevent its spread, thereby exhibiting true love.

In addition, they said Ghanaians should celebrate Christmas by putting aside their differences and live in harmony by co-existing peacefully for the smooth growth and development of the country.

The religious leaders who gave the advice in separate Christmas messages to the Daily Graphic included the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, Most Rev. Philip Naameh; the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt Rev.Prof. JOY Mante; the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, Most Rev. Dr Paul Boafo; the Presiding Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Western-West Africa Episcopal District, Rt Rev. Dr. Hilliard K. Dela Dogbe, and the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye.

The rest are the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church, Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong-Manso; the Greater Accra Region Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rt. Rev. Samuel Osabutey; the Moderator of the Global Evangelical Church, Rt Rev. Dr Setorwu Kwadzo Ofori, and the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, Most Rev. Dr Paul Boafo.



Share

In his Christmas and New Year message, Most Rev. Naameh said: In “our celebrations during this Christmas period and beyond, we encourage all Ghanaians to learn to share the little we have with one another. In particular, we encourage all citizens to extend deeds of care and love to the most unfortunate ones in our midst – the poor and the needy, the marginalised and the less privileged, including prisoners, street children, mentally handicapped people, widows, orphans, etc.”

He believed that by so doing, the peace, joy and love which the birth of Jesus Christ brought to the whole world would also be felt by the unfortunate in society.


“Since the beginning of last year and throughout this year, which is now ending, we have tried to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic which has ravaged us and our global world. No one can overlook the negative impact which the pandemic has wrecked on our religious, social and economic lives in Ghana as elsewhere in the world. Yet, as of today, we do not know when this pandemic is coming to an end.”

“Therefore, we wish to remind all that existing regulations and protocols meant to contain and minimise the impact of COVID-19 are still pertinent and ought to be followed religiously even if these tend to limit some of our rights and freedoms,” he said.

Change

In his Christmas message on the theme: “O Holy Night,” the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), Rt Rev. Prof. Mante, said believing in the mystery of Jesus’ birth changed the way people looked at things around the world.



He urged Ghanaians to understand that peaceful existence was the greatest legacy that Jesus left his disciples with. adding that, “Peaceful existence must be seriously pursued by all of us.”

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCG encouraged people to be cautious as they celebrate Christmas, observe all the protocols and get vaccinated if possible, to help minimise the spread of COVID-19.

“It is better for us to be safe now than sorry and it is better to preserve our lives now by being cautious than celebrating and regretting later.

“Let’s all abide by the COVID-19 protocols to help keep the numbers down. Let it not be said of us that in celebrating Christmas, COVID-19 also had the chance to cause havoc,” Rt Rev. Prof. Mante, who is also the Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana, advised.

Peaceful co-existence

In a Christmas and New Year message at a press conference in Accra, Most Rev. Dr Boafo charged Ghanaians to endeavour to work towards peaceful co-existence.

He said Ghanaians should use Christmas to assist the poor and marginalised in society so as to enable them to appreciate the benevolence to humanity just as Christ offered Himself as a gift.

Regarding COVID-19, he urged Ghanaians to continue to observe the safety etiquette and not let their guards down and advised those yet to get vaccinated to endeavour to do so.

Journey

Rt Rev. Dr Dogbe said the country’s journey during the year 2021 had been eventful and that looking back, it was impossible not to recognise the imprints of God’s mighty hand upon the lives of Ghanaians.

Without a doubt, he said the nation and its people were on God’s heart and that there was the need to end the year with gratitude to God for His mercies and loving kindness.

“Notwithstanding the huge economic challenges confronting us and the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation Ghana remains an oasis of peace and prosperity in a turbulent sub-region and we cannot take this for granted. We must do more to preserve this peace and grow the economy.

“God will not do for us, that which He has equipped and resourced us to accomplish. Let us commit to peaceful coexistence and uphold the virtues of hard work, honesty, patriotism, excellence and unity as we soldier on into the year 2022,” he said, adding, “May God bless our homeland Ghana and continue to make our nation great and strong”.

Recreational

Apostle Nyamekye indicated that Christmas was not for recreational purposes but a season for Christians to remember the foundation of the faith, retell the redemption story and renew their commitments to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.

He observed that although Christmas was celebrated globally and for centuries, the religious festivity had always come under attack with some people questioning its relevance to Christianity.

According to him, some people hated Christmas because of its Christian basis; others hated it because they felt obligated to celebrate it, while others resented the thought that Jesus was the Son of God.

He further noted that some Christians disliked church conventions and meetings organised during the Christmas season because they “disrupt” their holiday plans. While others point out that Jesus was probably not born in December and that there is no biblical suggestion about the celebration of His birth.

Moderation

For his part, Rev. Prof. Frimpong-Manso prayed that the Christmas would be celebrated in moderation.

“Let us not lose focus because Christmas is not about getting drunk and wasting resources. It is about giving and forgiving (for Jesus was given to us so we could be forgiven); a time of sharing (for the wise men shared); a time to receive a prophecy (for several prophecies were fulfilled); a time of taking stock (for there was a population census); a time of safety (for the baby Jesus and the family received protection from God),” he said.

He said as Ghanaians prepared for Christmas, many things would engage their attention.

“We are in that part of the year where the doomsayers will be in their elements – prophesying doom against families and the nation. Ignore their tantrums and keep praying; for the Lord is on our side. It is an open secret that the coronavirus has decided to mutate so it could stay with us. Let us therefore be wise enough to go through the inoculation, wear our face masks and continue to observe all the protocols, within the festivities. It will be in our interest, to learn from history and happenings around us,” he said.

Rt Rev. Osabutey said the year 2021 came with it, the devastating challenges of COVID-19 that took hold of the world for the most part of 2020, and that just when the country was recovering from the social and economic challenges, news of different variants of the disease began to emerge.

Desperate

“Against this background, most of us may be desperate, afraid and tempted to give up. The season of Christmas reminds us of God’s gift to the world – Jesus, who is an embodiment of Peace for our troubled world. God’s action was motivated by His love for humanity.

“In the midst of our challenges, let us appropriate in this season this gift of God by spreading hope in place of hopelessness, faith in place of doubt and fear, courage in place of discouragement, and love in place of hatred,” he said.

Wonderful

Rt Rev. Dr Ofori said Christmas was a wonderful time of the year when Christians celebrated faith, family, and the tradition of giving gifts because that was what God did.

“Peace is the absolute gift that God has given to us Ghanaians through His Son Jesus, the Christ. So let us continue to maintain the peace especially as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who is the prince of peace.

“Let us remember as a nation, that, Jesus is the reason for the celebration. For this, whatever one does, it should be to the glory of His name. Let us make merry in moderation. Drivers should exhibit the highest sense of caution during this season to avoid the loss of lives.

As a nation, he said Ghanaians needed to appreciate the fact that Christmas was also a season for giving, remembering and sharing the love that God showed mankind. He would, therefore, like to call on all well-meaning citizens and philanthropists to reciprocate God’s love for mankind.

GJA

In a related development, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has thanked God for lavishing his grace on all media practitioners, media owners and media consumers for the year 2021.

“The GJA proudly notes that a significant swathe of the media space has witnessed the display of distinctively distilled journalism. On the flip side, however, are ethically bankrupt practices which spell a negative image for the profession, he said.

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