This has been a turbulent year for South Africa, as it has for the global community. Across the world we have witnessed a rise in terror attacks and a wave of migration as people flee their homes. Our media has been filled with disturbing images, from the three year old Syrian refugee lying drowned on a Turkish beach, to footage from inside the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris as gunmen opened fire.
This has also been a year of extreme weather conditions and natural disasters, with floods in Japan, Georgia and the US, fires in California, a volcanic eruption in Chile and a devastating earthquake in Nepal. Here at home, we have battled severe drought to the extent that many farmers have lost their livelihood.
Our own attention has been focussed on a declining economy, persistent unemployment and increasing hardship for millions of South Africans. In the midst of this, social protest has grown, from the Fees Must Fall campaign to marches around the country against poor leadership by the President.
Under such worrying conditions, it is difficult to find reason to celebrate. Even as we gather with family and exchange gifts in an atmosphere of festivity, the conversation is likely to turn to the state of our country.
I urge us, therefore, not simply to enact the routine traditions of this time of year, but to consider the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
This is a Christian celebration, during which believers around the world remember the birth of Christ. This remains the most pivotal moment of human history, for it took us from the law of sin and death, to the assurance of grace and forgiveness. Because of Christ’s birth and death, every single person is enabled to believe His promise: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
This Christmas, let us remember the foretelling of Christ’s birth and consider the hope that still exists, even now –
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder… You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end... The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah Chapter 9 verse 2 to 7
On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party, I wish all believers a Christmas filled with hope. And for all our people, of all different faiths, I pray for peace.