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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

This is just a quick Christmas Greeting for all viewers of the British Pakistani Christian Association. Christmas is the day set a aside for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The derivation of this particular day as a festival for Christ's birth is steeped in mystery. It has long been held that the day was the date of an ancient roman pagan festival of the sun, as the day corresponds with the winter solstice, from which days lengthen. However, historical evidence refutes this and there is very little data supporting a large festival around this time celebrating any sun deity. Moreover the earliest records evidence only a small scale parochial celebration dating from around 400 AD. The Catholic church maintain, that 25th December was selected due to its position 9 months, after the presumed date of the inception of Christ March 25th (which corresponds with the summer solstice).

Whatever the truth behind the date modern tradition has veered from the original aim of celebrating the birth of Christ and now focus is geared towards having a sumptuous meal and the receipt of gifts. This has its positives, as it brings families together and creates a seasonal glitter for young children. However, the true message of Christ has been lost along the way and TV and other media are unfortunately, more interested in Santa Clause and snowmen.

We will be praying for all those who are suffering Pakistan and we will pray that Christmas is a time of joy for all people, irrespective of faith, creed, colour or any other diversity. God created mankind not just Christians. Being a Christian is a choice, not a birth right - we all have to choose our own walk and should have the freedom to do so.

I would ask that Christians in Pakistan pray for our group and pray for their own situation too, as united in prayer our community across the globe can achieve great things. Do remember the People of Korian, of Gojra and of Sumbrial - communities that have been subjected to significant threat and persecution and are still living in desolate conditions. If you can spare a gift for those people, either visit yourselves to show solidarity and provide comfort and succour to our brothers and sisters or contribute to the existing Aid efforts.

It is Christmas time and those of us who are safe in our homes this Christmas need to gear up for more fervent action. The weather or non-receipt of a personal invitation is not a reason to stay away from the pressure activities arranged by community representatives. Pastors who feel slighted need to recognise that they are in position to serve and any authority they have is God given and must be justified. Christ was the servant king and washed the feet of his disciples. I doubt many of our leaders could swallow such a task - yet our God has shown humility of a kind that this world shall never see again. Moreover, Christ was a political activist he questioned authority and in protest to the religious traditions He healed on the Sabbath, He questioned that law by saving the adulteress by causing internal reflection within the rampant mob primed to stone her to death withe these words "let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

It was his thought provoking words, peaceable nature and agape love that drew people to him and caused such political and religious change in the communities Christ affected. We need to be more Christlike and need to be willing to confront political powers, religious powers and other principalities if we are to overcome the situation in Pakistan. Previous protests held by our community have been disorganised and resulted in dual factions; firstly those that were willing to use crude terms and inflammatory comments in fits of rage, releasing the pent up aggression and frustration created by the atrocities in Pakistan. The other group carried out the peaceful more thought provoking chants and raised a banner of unity and peace, that endeared more people to our cause. In previous protests my brother Alex and I have tried to control the exuberances of the more militant individuals in our community. We tried talking to them to make them think about the increased hostilities they could create. I personally, had to shout chants louder to get them to alter their more chants and join in unison with the majority of more peaceful petitioners. It is with great pride that the BPCA states that not one inflammatory remark or civil dispute arose form our recent protest. People were coming to our group to take a pamphlet describing the issues in Pakistan without fear or trepidation. We will be holding another protest in the Summer and hope that more of you will show solidarity - only in showing unity can we considered a force and have a direct impact in resolving what we would consider the primary concern for our people in Pakistan.

In the picture you can see the snowman that my daughters my nieces and my nephews made outside my mothers home. The girls collected snow and filled a bucket, the boys carried the bucket, I shaped and constructed the snowman. Together we created a local monument, parents are still bringing their children to the snowman and taking pictures.

It was a time of fun and frolicking - not entirely Christian in nature and hardly depicting what Christmas is about. We thought we would share it with you though as it is a seasonal activity that we in the UK can only undertake during the period that is Christmas. Let this picture not detract from the origin of Christmas, but may it inspire you to work together as a cohesive force, a group with different functions, with different roles that contribute to the overall end product. Much like the body of Christ is meant to function.

I pray that God blesses you all and that he binds us together as a community with chords that cannot be broken.

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