As Christmas season entered the home stretch earlier this week, the Metropolis had gone bright and gay from roundabouts to State and other buildings, hotels, shops and even security force enclosures being lit up and decorated with seasonal bunting.
Perhaps for the first time during the yuletide season, every roundabout in the city had been brightly decorated with Santa’s, Reindeers, Christmas trees and huge candles, pumping up the message that Christmas is round the corner.
Helping towards this end are large establishments and other institutions which have generously come forward to foot the bills that could end up in millions of rupees, when the season is all over.
Apart from this, the city shops and stalls are overflowing with Christmas goodies, toys, clothes, gift parcels, decorations and the traditional Cypress branches that have been transported from the forests of the hill country to the city in thousands.
Traders, shopkeepers and the like geared up for a mad rush of last-minute shoppers on Friday and Saturday, and the Police Department has thrown in extra men to control traffic and pedestrians.
Having said all this, the police had also warned shoppers and other road users to take extra precaution while jostling in crowded places such as shopping malls, bus terminals and night bazaars, since there is a known presence of petty thieves and criminals.
“This warning goes out mainly to women who are known to flaunt expensive jewellery. Try to avoid this practice, it is not worth the risk,” is how one senior policeman put it.
‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All’ is relevant today
President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his Christmas message, said that, ‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All’, that came with the first Christmas, has relevance to the world today, as it faces increasing challenges of hatred, terror, national rivalry, economic crisis, climate change and food insecurity.
“In this season of loving and giving, Christians seek to break the barriers that divide people, whether by race, ethnicity, religion, caste, wealth or social issues,” the President said in his message.
“The sheep, in whose midst the Child Jesus was born and lay in a manger, and the shepherds who first paid tribute to the Son of God, shows us that Christian love has strong bonds with the poor and the common people, and should also extend to all other beings that share this world with us,” the message said.
The President’s message added that the prayers of Christians, in this Season of Goodwill, seek to ease the burdens in society with the love that is re-kindled with the nativity of Jesus Christ.
Heal wounds of war, overcome prejudices and reconcile
Catholic Bishops’ Conference Christmas Message
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka (CBCSL), in it’s Christmas Message for 2011, calls on Sri Lankans to engage in the much needed and challenging task of healing the wounds inflicted all along the protracted war, and to overcome prejudices which distance people from one another, as reconciliation is the great need of the hour.
“We celebrate the feast of the prince of Peace. Therefore, let us be engaged in the much needed and challenging task of healing the wounds inflicted all along the protracted war, and overcome prejudices which distance us from one another, as reconciliation is he great need of he hour,” the Christmas message signed by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, President – CBCSL and Bishop Norbert M. Andradi, OMI , Secretary General- CBCSL, said.
“The Incarnate Son reminds us that, all of us are children of God, brothers and sisters in the One Fatherhood of God, wherever or whoever we are. Let us therefore, double our efforts and recommit ourselves to this vital task, and become instruments of the Incarnate Son and agents of peace building and reconciliation,” the message said.
The CBCSL said that their minds and hearts also go to the thousands who are displaced and are not finally resettled in their own villages. “We urge everybody concerned to double their efforts, so that normalcy returns to their lives. Hence, we need to seek him among the multitudes who continues to suffer, as economic and other hardships make it almost unbearable to so many of our families. Just as the shepherds of old in Bethlehem, let us accept the challenge and meet Jesus lying in the many forms of the ‘mangers’ of our day,” it said.
The CBCSL wished the Faithful a Holy and Blessed Christmas, in which, “you come to be filled with God’s immense love, to become his agents of peace through respect, healing and reconciliation.” It also wished all the citizens of Sri Lanka, and all men and women of goodwill, the peace and blessings of Christmas.
Emerge as one Nation of one family
Anglican Bishop Rt. Rev Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey
Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Rt. Rev Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, in his Christmas message, said the country must emerge as One Nation of One Human family transcending all humanly made divisions of caste, class, race, or religion.
“Firstly, Christmas talks of the measureless Love of the Heavenly Father, who “sent His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.
“There are so many who suffer today in various circumstances of life: The poor, the orphans, the widows, the maimed, the blind, the deaf, the marginalised and the harassed. When we respond to them in love, we in turn respond to God for His Love in offering His son Jesus to us,” the Bishop said in his message.
“Secondly, Christmas talks of unconditional forgiveness. Jesus was sent by the Father to pay the ransom for our sins, on the cross with His life, and to reconcile us with God and each other.”
“Human relationships are sacred to God, and Christmas time could be the opportune moment to reconcile with those against who we are not in right relationship. As a nation, we have gone through difficult times physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and politically, and this is the opportune moment to build bridges of trust and confidence between individuals, families and communities. We must emerge as One Nation of One Human family transcending all humanly made divisions of caste, class, race, or religion,” he said.
The message said that each faith, community must have the right to exercise its religious obligation of propagating its own faith freely, and each citizen must have the right to choose his or her own faith at each other’s own free will. “Hostility against each other must stop, for it is not the will of God.”
“Thirdly, it talks of God becoming flesh; the God of the outside becoming the God of the inside.
The Father sent His son Jesus to be with us forever. He became human, was born in a cattle shed. He died to save us from sin and damnation. He rose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, came back to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and dwells in our hearts. This is the Joy of Christmas; the God of thousand galaxies coming to dwell in you and dwell within you, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, I say that Christianity is never a religion and can never be made to be a religion.
Why? Because it is a Living Relationship with the Living God in the power of the Holy Spirit, where He walks with us and talks with us who believe,” the message said.The Bishop also said that Christmas is not only about the past and the present, but also of the future. “It offers us all ‘Hope in Christ Jesus’. Because He is alive, we can face the future courageously.”