Post Mortem

Take us back

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/1/2020 12:53:55 PM IST

 Memory is such an inherent gift. Everybody has a story to tell as all and sundry is blessed with the faculty to remember the event that came to pass. A worthwhile occasion fit for such reminiscence is the memory of childhood at Christmas time. The remarkable episode that is indelibly imprinted in one’s memory as a child differs from one to another. What is your childhood memory at Christmas time? For some of you, the memory may be incredibly good, where you spent the time with kinfolk over traditional cuisine by the fireplace. For others of you, it may be a night of carolling with friends having a conventional tag. For some of you, it may be pinning your ears back to Jim Reeves and Boney-M creating nostalgia in the winter air. For others of you, it may be simply being at home free from the obligation of assignments and coursework. For some of you, it may be an astonishing journey to some distant land. The list goes on. Good childhood memories that you have bracketed together count and they remain. 

There is a Christmas Album called Christmas Love and I situate my childhood Christmas recollection to this one thing. The Album cover portrays the innocent infant Jesus in a manger with Joseph, Mary, and the Shepherds in jubilation. I could call to mind listening to the songs from the album during the season. It had become one of my preferred albums and topped the personal chart not only once but right through my childhood days. Adding flavour; my mother showed her affection for the album as much as I did. We gained from listening to the melody and the lyrics that complemented the music became a dividend to the enthralment.

Forwarding the time to the present; today’s Christmas has evolved to something different from the earlier ones. The innovation that has been taking place in the rest of the world is having its sway in almost every aspect here and now. This progress is for the most part seen in cosmetic arrangement rather than the internal growth though. The poignant trend is the overlapping of this influence into the season’s internal arrangement. The church has adopted the influence and adapted herself to this drift. The trend in a visible format is manifested in the form of allotting ceiling budget for the external embellishment of the church premises. In consequence, the church building is elaborately decorated and illuminated with shades of varied colours making it come into sight akin to a grand festivity at the palatial edifice. In the adornment, the church also has moved a great deal away from traditional adherence as is evidenced from the way she places her decorative stuffs. We see less and less of Joseph, Mary, and the Shepherds by the side of newborn Jesus in a manger; and more and more of Santa Clause and other fictitious characters occupying a dominant place in the panorama nativity scene. This reminds us of something not fairly right and that something is that we have pushed Christmas into the commercial hub. 

The adapted mercantile trend has been persuading the young minds to mull over Christmas as any other festive celebrations. Put concretely, a large space has been fashioned for relative thinking to dwell. This has extensively pushed the factual implication of the season to the periphery. “Action speaks louder than words” they say. 

The manifold manifestation of this distortion is not within the veiled form anymore when one sees the way the younger generation anticipates, observes and behaves. In the name of Christmas, anything that suits the secular outlook in revelry is up to standard. To many; drunkenness, orgies and the like have become a norm and a fashion in this phase of the year and they no longer bother so long as they maintain the standard of living. Indeed, a heart-rending reality!

Behind the scene of jubilation, a comprehensive portrait is sketched in the album cover which qualifies the front scene as Jesus is hung on a tree, with thorns on his head and blood cascading down the face. The time-honoured significance cannot be undermined altogether and the album carries that meaning in a vivid manner. Realising this significant mark will definitely enable us to put Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds back to the rightful place; in close proximity to the Child in a manger. 

We can no longer remain at the birth narrative for too long by way of being complacent but we have to look beyond and proceed to the grand event that was to take place on mount Golgotha following the first Christmas; namely, the Cross. The true meaning of celebrating Christmas can be tapped only in realizing this eventful event on the mount. This will allow us to make a distinction between Christmas and its misrepresentations. 

Decoration is an important part of the celebration for in so doing we demonstrate our love, respect and honour in an indispensable manner. But it becomes a stumbling block when the outward beautification outweighs the inner state of the heart. Consequently, the church needs to ask herself whether the outward appearance that is extensively seen is in anyway reflecting the true inner decorum of the heart. If the stunning Christmas star that is hung upon the tree in the front of your handsome building doesn’t portray your true inner being then how great the inconsistence is! If the huge amount that is extracted from the church budget for the purpose of embellishment doesn’t help in meeting people’s spiritual needs; then, as a church, she needs to genuinely create space for the contemplation to come into her sphere of influence sooner rather than later.  

 As the season of Advent has come to us again, may we have a time of retreat and retrieve our childhood memory at Christmas time where we once anticipated the eventful day with awe and wonder. You and I as part of the church should become an agent of change by having the courage to put Joseph and Mary, the Shepherds, and above all else the innocent infant Jesus in the centre stage of the nativity scene and not the fictitious elements. In so doing, the ornamentation in the church premises, no lesser than that sheer size that is also seen in homes, will at length become substantially momentous. Love from heaven will redirect us had we shuffled the priority to our fancy.  

You and I can become persons of worth once again since the Word has become flesh in the birth of Christ the Lord. The redemption from the bondage of sin has come to us through the Word.  Let us dare to unlock the childhood memory that reflects the true character of anticipation where love, joy, peace and hope met in abundance. May the spirit of the season take us back to that childlike wonder at the first Christmas.

Bito Lohe

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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