Christmas of peace at long last
and Goodwill in our land, the central theme this Christmas
By Francis Vethanayagam
It's December the last month of a calendar year, which
heralds the season or period of Advent. People the world over are
anxiously preparing to commemorate the Birth of Jesus Christ. This
year the occasion will be on a totally different note. As done down
the ages, the celebrations could be two fold. One the material aspect
or outlook and the other, the spiritual aspect or outlook. After
nearly twenty long years enmeshed in strife, bloodshed and untold
destruction, the birth of the Prince of Peace is to be celebrated
this year in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
child of Bethlehem alone can give us the peace which all in
our country are seeking
the unrest, that prevailed then and continues to prevail in and
around the world now, the coming of the promised Messiah in the
form of a man, will remain a unique event ever to be recorded and
witnessed in history. In an ever changing world, generations down
the ages have taken away the real meaning, or significance of this
great event. Engulfed in a commercial world that has been turning
towards materialistic ideas in what is being claimed as inevitable
in order to keep ahead with the changing times of a competitive
into this world sent by the Eternal Father, for the purpose of saving
mankind from this lost condition. To strengthen his relationship
with God, his neighbour, and the world around. This was accomplished
by the price he paid on the cross for the redemption of mankind
by taking on himself, the penalty and punishment for human sin.
The Birth of
the Messiah when it took place went unnoticed and above all ignored,
although it was a birth of a God King taking human shape in a different
sense of the term. The Jews, the Religious Leaders, Teachers, Lawmakers
and Rulers at that time were either ignorant, misunderstood or deliberately
misintepreted God's message and scripture. They least expected the
promised Messiah to be born in a stable, among beasts and humble
shepherds. They awaited a Royal birth associated with that of Prince,
King, or Conqueror with pomp, pageantry. This they anticipated in
keeping with the interpretation of the teachings that existed at
The first Christmas had mixed reactions. To some it brought
great joy, solace, comforted tranquillity. To others tremendous
fear, anxiety and impending danger of radical social changes and
yet to others, expectation of hope and belief of a beginning of
a new life of salvation for mankind. The poor shepherds watched
over their flocks on distant hill tops on that dark and wintry night.
But to those in the outside world, it was far from peaceful. Instead
it was a night of horror. Man was rising against man, and nations
against nations, exploitation, hatred, injustice, corruption, oppression
and the like was rampant at its highest level and was the order
of the day everywhere.
after twenty centuries little or no changes seem to have taken place.
Therefore the message of Christ which was relevant to all places
and all times has not had its desired impact. It is against this
identical background that people in the modern world are getting
ready to celebrate the noble event of a man who was born poor, lived
poor and sacrificed his life for the salvation of mankind.
Today in every
corner of the world people sing "Glory to God in the Highest
and Peace on Earth" while wishes of "Peace on earth to
men of goodwill" are also sung, but we neither see the glory
of God nor Peace on earth ever since Christ left this earth. People
have failed to realize that when preparations are being made to
celebrate this sacred event, it's a celebration not merely of the
birth of Christ who lived and died, but one whose still alive and
will continue to do be. Keeping in mind that he is the risen Lord.
Christmas like every other in the past is only a preparation of
a certain event for his coming in glory for which the first Christmas
was only a prelude. His second coming will not be in the form of
a helpless babe lying in a manger but to judge the living and the
At long last a war torn nation has been able to see the light
of peace at the end of a tunnel. However the other side of which
has been torn apart by a senseless war, which has left behind a
trail of death, now halted by a truce between the warring factions.
In this context let us for a moment ponder and reflect on what Christ
said when he came on his earthly mission. "I come to bring
you peace" and ended his great mission on the same note "My
peace I leave with you''.
should be the central theme this Christmas. It is useless just talking
about peace, saying a lot of things from rooftops or rolling in
the armchair of complacency. This will never take us an inch ahead.
The wheels of the peace process have moved fast over the last eleven
months and gathered momentum, towards achieving lasting peace, the
cherished goal of all peace loving citizens.
Let us all
remember that this possibly is the last God given opportunity, if
lost, it will very well spell doom forever. This thought should
be in the minds not only of our rulers but all citizens in this
the darkest hour in the history of our dear Motherland. Peace cannot
be purchased for money or any other consideration, but only by a
change of heart and attitudes. It is a spiritual reality in a human
heart, which emanates from vital contact with God. There is no better
time than Christmas time to banish hatred, rebellion, suspicion
and create a feeling of oneness, tolerance and understanding which
should take pride of place in our society at any cost.
us as Christians resolve as far as possible to shun all glitter,
glamour and curtail lavish spending, feasting and enjoyment this
Christmas. Instead identify ourselves with the unfortunate ones
and establish justice and equality that will ensure security and
freedom for all irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
We are all
fully aware that thousands are refugees in the land of their birth,
denied their birth rights, sheltered in makeshift camps, under trees
and in the open exposed to the elements without basic rights and
proper amenities. Hundreds of children have been orphaned, while
hundreds of parents have lost their children. Thousands have been
rendered homeless, while yet thousand others have been disabled
for life, suffering in silence without a future. Let us lend a helping
hand to these unfortunate brethren who suffer for no fault of theirs
and spread the Christian cheer through noble deeds.
This will give
them a new life and hope so that they could live in dignity, self-respect
and freedom. The spirit of Christ should pervade every corner of
this country to make us worthy of being called children of God.
Let us also
remember that although Jesus died on the first Good Friday, he continues
to die every moment of everyday to those who are broken hearted
and helpless. God the Father looked upon this world with compassion
and love and sent his only beloved Son Jesus Christ as the embodiment
of his Kingdom's manifesto of justice, love, and peace.
The child of
Bethlehem alone can give us this peace which we in our country are
all seeking and yearning so desperately, and it is this child who
can help us to know and live as brothers and sisters of one family.
We should honour,
remember and celebrate a Christ who said "I have not come to
be served but to serve. "May the Birth of Prince of Peace and
his message of peace and goodwill bring lasting peace and happiness
to all our people in Sri Lanka. A Happy Christmas and a Blessed
New Year to all.
were the sights of coffee picking
The visit of the Prince of Wales to India has made the public
eager to picture to itself the scenes which are passing before his
eyes, and the incidents which he has or may be supposed to have
beheld. Now, in Ceylon one of the sights for a stranger is certainly
coffee-picking. Coffee was originally discovered in Abyssinia 326
years ago, and from there introduced into Arabia. Subsequently it
was planted in Jamaica and Java, and more recently in Ceylon and
Madras. The shrub resembles a jessamine, and bears a fruit something
like the cherry. The berries, being gathered, are dried in the sun,
and the outer skin is then removed. Coffee cultivation has lately
improved, and it is not uncommon for a planter to obtain a harvest
of seven or eight hundredweight, at £5 per hundredweight per
acre. The labourers are, imported from the Malabar Coast. Men Receiving,
from 14$. to 17$., and the women 13$. a month. The shrub thrives
best on the sides of hills and in ravines. The duty on coffee has
just been reduced from 3d to 1 1/2d. in the pound. Had it been taken
off entirely it would have given a better chance for the use of
this wholesome beverage in the households of the poorer classes.
It would have been no great loss to the Government, as the expense
of collecting the present duty will probably cost as much as the
amount of revenue. America now admits coffee free of duty, and the
increase in consumption has been enormous. It is thought that ere
long the whole of the Brazil crop will go to the United States,
in which case we shall probably have to pay enhanced prices, and
thus lose the boon of reduced duty.
Sketches in Ceylon.
Dr Rajpal De Silva and Dilmah Tea)