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By NBF News
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Christians, the world over, will today celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and on whose teachings the Christian faith is based. The annual event, which comes up every December 25th, is one of the greatest festivals in the Christian calendar. It is always marked with great pomp.

Also, it will witness dances, fanfare, carols, and other festivities.

In Nigeria, the occasion is usually celebrated with lots of merriment and worship in churches. It is also a day characterized by love and sharing. The occasion offers Christians the opportunity to visit orphanages, old peoples' homes as well as motherless babies' homes. It is equally marked with giving of gifts to one's neighbours, friends and relatives as well as the poor and the less privileged people in the society.

However, as we engage in the rituals and ceremonies associated with the festival, Christians in Nigeria and other countries should not lose sight of the essence of the event. The spiritual significance of the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, which took place in Bethlehem in Judea over 2000 years ago, should be paramount. While basking in the joy of the season, we should remember that Christ came essentially to suffer for our sins and salvage mankind.

Therefore, the essence of Christ's birth is to reconcile man to God and to save the world from eternal damnation. His lowly birth in a manger and of poor parentage shows that God does not discriminate and that He cares for all humanity irrespective of place and state of birth.

Notwithstanding His divine nature and attributes, Christ descended so lowly to assume the status of a suffering messiah. Therefore, the lesson of Christ's birth is that despite His lowly state, he, nevertheless, achieved the purpose of His coming to earth as well as attained greatness. His messianic mission is what every Christian should aspire to in his daily life. Our country is passing through tough times and social deprivations not because the resources are not available but because some of our leaders have ignored the messianic principle as enunciated by Jesus Christ.

As his birth brought hope, love, peace and salvation to mankind, let all Christians demonstrate these virtues by sharing the joys of the season with their friends and members of other religious faiths. Christ's birth came with peace but unfortunately peace is eluding so many people in the world due to one crisis or the other. In Nigeria, we witnessed series of crises and security challenges in the year. This is the time our leaders should pursue peace, dialogue, co-operation, reconciliation and mutual co-existence.

Let all Christians, including those in position of leadership, imbibe and exemplify the selfless principles that were demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Also, our leaders should show love and compassion on the governed and ensure that the peace and happiness of the season do not elude them. They should provide the citizenry with the basic necessities of life as well as the expected dividends of democracy. Our leaders should show exemplary leadership and emulate the servant-leader principle that was the trademark of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Christians should emulate the virtues of Christ in their daily lives.

Christmas should be a period of sober reflection for them. Let our politicians use the occasion to find how they have faired in rendering service to the people and what democratic dividends they have delivered to those that elected them into office.

The best way Christians can celebrate this occasion is by translating into realities the Christian virtues as enunciated by Jesus Christ. They should deploy such virtues in their social conduct and use them to develop our country. Let the political elite think more of public good and not necessarily what can satisfy them, their immediate families and friends.

May Christians use this occasion to remember the homeless, the sick, the poor the aged and all deprived people in the world. Let our leaders use the occasion to begin to address all the socio-economic problems plaguing the nation. They should embark on people-friendly policies that will bring succour to the generality of Nigerians. We wish our Christian brethren and all Nigerians Merry Christmas and happy celebration.