I am so thankful for the global relevance of Christmas. Even here, in sub-Saharan Africa, the significance of the birth of Christ is celebrated. It could be easy to assume that Christmas is a typical American holiday – lots of food, shopping, and parties can seem like specifically American traits. Yet Christmas is so much more than that. It’s about the incarnation of God in the form of a baby. In the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, verse 21, an angel tells Joseph that the little baby boy, Jesus, will “save His people from their sins.” He came to die to pay the penalty for our rebellion and sin. In the end of the book of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19, the resurrected Jesus has all authority and power, and charges His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Clearly, Jesus’ mission is global in scope, and Christmas is just as significant here as it is in the US. It has nothing to do with trees, snow, Santa Claus, wrapping paper or cookies. It has everything to do with humility, faith, obedience and worship.
Tim and I enjoyed various occasions to celebrate Christmas. We went to the Lusaka Music Society’s concert a few weeks ago, and heard selections from Bach, Britten, carols, jazz, etc., in the large Anglican Cathedral in town. Last Friday, we went to an American family’s house for snacks and singing, meeting other Americans to celebrate in a familiar way.
On Sunday, we went to a small church not far from here. During the service, the children put on a Christmas play. Parts of it brought back memories of many children’s Christmas plays, but this had a different “flavor.” There was Santa Claus banner strung across the sanctuary, a white baby doll, a stuffed toy camel the size of a cat, many of the sheep wore reindeer antler headbands, and the shepherds wore santa hats!! The kids recited part of Luke, chapter 2, passing a microphone from hand to hand. It was great!
Here is a picture of our front courtyard,shared with the other 7 apartments – you can see that it is lovely out – the rains have turned everything green – some of the shrubs are flowering, although you can’t see them in this photo. I think it was in the 70s on Christmas Day.
These are our “Christmas Trees!” I got the idea off Pinterest – although mine did not turn out as well as the ones shone on Pinterest. Yes – it is another incarnation of our refrigerator box, which made it’s second appearance (after holding the ‘frig!) as our bedroom’s window treatment! Hmm – did I ever post that picture? maybe not….
Here’s the dining room. Our table was supposed to be delivered on Dec 21, then on Dec 22, but it was held up at the border. It is made of African teak, in Zimbabwe, we think. The furniture store offered to deliver it on Sunday morning, 12/23, but we said we’d be at church, so they came Sunday afternoon! It is 1 meter wide, by 2 meters long. We bought 6 chairs, although we could probably fit 8 around it. Once we know that many people here, maybe we’ll order more chairs?! The tablecloth is made of 2 curtains (that we have not hung up yet), to get the width, and you can see that it is barely long enough to cover the length.
Can you see the Christmas “crackers” at the head of each plate? They are a tradition we have for Christmas that started when one of my sisters moved to England, and mailed us a box. They make a loud “pop” when the ends are pulled, and have crowns, small toys, and lame jokes inside. Usually they also have confetti, that I am still vacuuming up months later, but these crackers had no confetti. And I have no vacuum, so that’s probably a good thing!
If you look closely, you can see that we are all wearing our “crowns.” Our guests were good sports about it – one of them also brought a box of crackers, so we had 2 sets to open! It was fun to share a tradition we both had in common. All 3 of our guests work at the hospital – one is a volunteer from Germany, helping out as a media specialist, one is a volunteer from the US, working for CURE Kids – fund-raising, by showing pictures, and recounting the patient stories, and one is a speech therapist – now living and working in Lusaka.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas, and trust you enjoyed your celebration of Christ’s birth!