by Sr. Beatrice Iyioku, MMM Nigeria 21.12.2021
The birth of a child comes with so much joy, fulfilled hopes and an end to long anticipation. The birth of Jesus at Christmas comes also with its uniqueness. Christmas seasons are very dear times which brings me to reflect upon that great gift of God to humanity; the incarnation of God.
An opportunity to celebrate it with my sisters in community, loved ones and family is a great and a wonderful experience. With these joys, longings, desires and openness, I arrived at my community of mission in Huambo, Angola.
I was barely 2 months in my community of assignment by Christmas. Imagine the period when one becomes partially mute due to the language barrier. There had been news trickling in on the presence of the deadly virus in our country Angola. I kept my hopes high and said in my heart we Africans have resistant genes to all these upcoming variants, “disease no de kill Africans”!
The Angel Gabriel had hardly announced to the Virgin her new role as mother, when we received the shocking news of total lockdown of all social activities. This was on the 22nd of March, 2020. Well, I guess He did break the social distant rule by going to visit Mary. I got a fright imagining how the recognition of Mary will be possible, since we were all made to use face masks! Like Mary, I may not know the consequence or the demands of my ‘Yes’, I just learnt to trust God all along my journey.
As the birth date drew nearer, I found a deeper meaning in the untold silence that we experienced. It was in the hidden silence that a saviour was born, in the midst of the pain that a king emerged, it was in the waiting that the Messiah arrived. Thank God I overcame, we overcame, God’s name be praised.
Indeed our hope is the Lord believing that He is able and will calm the turbulent storms that ravaged the world.
We commenced with the lighting of our advent wreath candles and picking the name of the Sister for whom one prays and prepares a Christmas gift (Kris Kindle).
While I was still lost in dreams and wondering, “when will this veil of pain be drawn from us?”, a partial ban was lifted and so we were able to welcome the newborn Baby Jesus on Christmas day. Therefore, this Christmas, 2021, is one of deep gratitude to God who in His Mercy has spared our lives.
It is with this gratitude that we had our Christmas decorations in the community, to welcome all who come to us, and in a way to reflect our hope and prayers that the sun will shine again in our darkened world. We also received gifts as we gave out our beautifully designed hand made cards to our friends and families.
Emmanuel! God with us. Angels, people of goodwill and nations bow to worship the new-born king. Mass was simple and beautifully celebrated at our parish church. We sat and ate the prepared meal and the cake too. We had invited a friend who joined us for the celebration. “The night is holy, calm and stars are brightly shining..” This is one of my favourite hymns which I find inspiring, and we sang while we opened our Christmas presents.