The Christmas Message.

And there were Shepherd living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. An Angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great Joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You’ll find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the Angel. Praising God and saying; “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. When the Angels had left them and ascended into heaven, the Shepherd said to one another “Let’s Go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has happened which the Lord has told us about”

Luke 2:8-15

When you really think of all that the Christmas narrative is about, that God himself was going to communicate to man an answer to the deepest longings of man’s heart and mind, it is absolutely amazing that the initial revelation was not made in the bastions of power or Royalty where God could’ve drawn from aa well of wealth and nobility, rather he went to the common man; to shepherds watching the sheep at night.

It is interesting to think about the various kinds people to whom God initially chose to announced the message.

First he came to common shepherds who went about their work-a-day world, struggling to find answers to their existence; to those who had come to the conclusion that mere work alone is not liberating and ended up in loneliness. Loneliness because of the oppression they sensed with-out and lonely because of the alienation they sensed within.

Second, God spoke to men on the other side of the spectrum. These were not common men, the Bible describes them as the wise men from the East. These were the ones studying Astrology, the planetary movements – struggling to understand the ideologies of the day – trying to interpret man’s reason for being and his destiny. To the thinkers of the day whose major preoccupation was their love for wisdom and the absolute search for it. Yet somehow, in their philosophizing they had run into emptiness also. Ironically centuries later, philosophy finds itself in the same dead-end. Philosophers even in recent times have confessed their own sense of alienation – failing to come to that definite answer they seek. These thoughts shoot through the words of the playwright TS Elliot, he says “where is the wisdom we had lost all of the knowledge, where is the life we’d lost in all the living?”

Here now the message of God being revealed first to the common man in the fields taking care of his sheep, then to the thinker trying to find out the destiny and origin of mankind and finally to a religious man in his ceremonial activity every day – a man called Simon (the nunc dimitis) – who had also recognized the bankruptcy in searching for the answers for life.

No matter how strong and capable you and I think we are. No matter what strength we have within ourselves. No matter what desire of will or motivation of spirit we have, there comes a point beyond which we simply cannot go any further. And Mankind need to realize that it is alienation from God. Whether it be in our work-a-day world, or whether it be in our intellectual pursuits or whether it be in our striving for religious perfection.

Now what was the message?

Remember what the prophet said centuries ago… “Unto us a child is Born, unto us a Son is Given…” the Son wasn’t born, the Son eternally existed. It was the child that is born. And then it goes further to say this… “When Jesus having lived a pure, spotless life was, faced up with the death on the cross, he said “how can I turn away from it? For this is the very reason why I came into the world”… What did he mean by that? The cross is that pivotal reason for which Jesus Christ was born – in order to bridge this gap, the gap of separation between God and Man.

The first thing The Cross points to us, is the absoluteness of God’s Love. God reaching out to man. Giving up the Son as a propitiation for our sins. The longing within the human heart for love. It is the greatest hunger.

Not only is there the absoluteness of Love, there is the satisfaction of justice. God could not leave sin completely ignored. Somebody had to pay. The Bible says “…Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us…”

Finally, The Cross brings us the impartation of righteousness. Christ died on the cross so now when I make that approach to Him, I come not clothed in my own righteousness but clothed in the righteousness which is being provided to me by Jesus Christ.

So you see the absoluteness of God’s Love, the satisfaction of Justice and the impartation of God’s righteousness coming to the common man –finding that emptiness in their daily hustle; coming to  the intellectual –finding the bankruptcy in his philosophical world; coming to the religious man in his pursuit for spiritual excellence. There simply had to be that Savior.

This is the message of Christmas… “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord” Born in Bethlehem as an answer to man’s greatest hungers and needs. Ironically the name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”… Indeed, He is the Bread of Life.

May God Bless you this Christmas season!

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Of grammy nominations & shadow Patriotism

When news broke that Ghanaian Reggae artiste Rocky Dawuni had earned a Grammy nomination – making him the first ever Ghanaian to get on the scheme – I don’t quite remember I had the courage to explain to those around me why my emotions run the gamut from utter composure; through sadness and to sobbing quietly.

Indeed, it was a development that left a lot of people giddy with anticipation. A Ghanaian had managed such a feat and nobody had a justification for feeling anything other than extremely happy…. and in truth, neither did I – far from it! I was somewhat happy for him but recent disturbing developments in Ghana had me a bit worried and I fervently prayed that this, unlike many others, wouldn’t go down the same road. But drat! Before I could say the final Ameeeen…. Horror of horrors! My greatest fear was upon me [us]. The sudden patriotism of Ghanaian ‘celebrities’ had be awaken on social networks and there was no turning back.

A bit of a background

Until quite recently, say about 10ears ago it was great to see any Ghanaian excel at a global stage and we often claimed their determination, sense of self-belief, hard work and their apparent never-say-die attitude in our stride; their achievements as Ghanaian – as if it had anything to do with it. Folks like Osibisa, the Ramblers Band, E.T Mensah, Kofi Annan were all worthy global ambassadors… sold Ghana to the world in their own inimitable way that made us all proud to be associated with them. I quite remember how back in primary school, I smugly basked in the awesomeness that Kofi Annan – then the UN Secretary General – was Ghanaian. That was a novelty…. And a Black star shining, by extension also I meant I was shining by association. Those, in my humble opinion were the merrier times.

That was way before the advent of social media where you’d have people purring out in numbers to spryly publish vaguely inspirational emoji-laden visceral claptraps purportedly in support of somebody in contention for a top global prize or as a congratulatory missive to someone for having hassled his/her way through a very rough patch to come to global acclaim even though those self-styled patriots never gave a rat’s ass when their support was most needed and sort for. The production line for these hashtag driven bandwagons were not operational and patriotism wasn’t reduced to an avenue to clamor for a few RTs and likes.

A wind of change is blowing through the entertainment scene in Ghana. Its effects have left all objective observers quite perplexed. Reggie n Bollie have hustled their way through thick and thin in the UK since ominously leaving the shores of Ghana and are now getting some sort of recognition for their efforts and now every tongue [thumb] in the ever talkative blogosphere……… every tongue that can taste pepper and salt are rallying ‘support’ for them, attempting to partake in the fame [and fortune] they’ve found. You see large swathes of the social media space in Ghana making an erroneous claim that their [Reggie n Bollie] hassle as a “Ghana success story.” I really never cared much about whatever was going in the UK and certainly not a reality show which I stood no chance of watching from my base in Accra but my attention was drawn to it when it became apparent Reggie N bollie’s ‘good deeds’ were earning them some rave reviews in the UK and around the world.

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This wiped up quite some reaction and a gratuitous sense of patriotism amongst folks on those social media spaces (facebook, Instagram, twitter and more annoyingly WhatsApp), canvassing for votes for them ever since they made it to the finals of the UK X-factor. My obvious worry with this kind of ‘patriotism’ is that, it tends to cut out all those who are not Ghanaian from the fanfare and it creates and a We-against-the-world sort of scenario. That could potentially be injurious to their hopes in the competition. What if the millions of Brits decide to play a similar patriotism card and opt to vote for their own irrespective of their performances, what will become of our Reggie n Bollie? That would threaten and eventually defeat the purpose of the TV show in the first place. It is a popularity contest and by the sheer law of averages, we are in the least stead to be playing the nationality card here. The numbers simply does not support us.

Several Ghanaians around the world have shown endeavor and have supported Reggie n Bollie throughout their X-factor journey, but those who’ve actually provided the wings on which they’ve flown to where they are today are the Brits, not the social media activists in Ghana – no matter how well they mean. So if we keep in this harming precedent we’ve set, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn they are in fact sauntering farther and farther away from the X-factor crown.

What’s even more alarming is our on-air personalities’ [celebrities] sudden knack for clamoring for votes and public support even though they wallowed in Laodicean indifference when Reggie Zippy and Bollie were back home(Ghana), struggling to make headway in the careers. Does it matter that they probably would never have had such a massive endorsement if it were a local competition in Ghana with the same endeavor they shown which is giving them all the attention?  Does it matter that it had to take citizens of the UK to tell us how good our ‘own’ were? … and what’s it with all the talk of “Ghana flyng High” spluttered all over the social media landscape? With nebulous comments like “Ghana to the world!” My friend had so many repetitions of ‘Ghana to the world!’ splashed across his TL that the comment was virtually coming out of his ears. In his subsequent bout of high fever, he swore he could see his tombstone crawling with several ants, all bearing little flags that read, “Ghana to the World!” [I jest]…

Mr. Dawuni’s success is evidently due to his being such a gregarious person, showing genuine interest in his chosen career. Anyone with such enterprise as prosperous as his “Branches of the same tree” album in my motherland would have been standoffish and pompous. Not so our Rocky. Since his nomination, he’s taken every opportunity to talk down the enormity of his achievement and roped-in some acts in Ghana – singling them out as his inspiration for the work he’s done. Modesty has gotten a new definition. That virtue has taken my respect for him a notch higher and I really hope he goes one better – be the first Ghanaian to actually win a Grammys.

If only my people supported our own no matter what. If only we never talked down our own while praising others. If only we didn’t have to wait for some other people to appreciate our own before we see the quality of our own, maybe…. Just maybe… Yemi Alade wouldn’t have mustered enough courage to dig into Stonebwoy for winning a BET award over her.