January 7, 2008

Hey! I’ve said happy new year to everyone except you. Can you imagine that? Well, I suppose it’s not too late. Someone says you should stop saying Happy new year on 6th January, so I’ve missed it by a few hours. But I’m sure it won’t make the year less happy for you.

You know, these customs! Someone also said that it’s on that day that you take off your Christmas decorations. Well, what few decorations I had up were taken down at least three days ago … great crime that!

I’ve always been very bad at writing letters, diaries, … blogs, etc. It would have been too much to expect me to write “Merry Christmas” and a “happy new year”. Two messages within a week of each other? I’m sure that most people hadn’t got over Christmas before the new year. Spare a thought for Nigerians and other multi-faith countries. A week before Christmas, they were celebrating one of the Ids. Apologies to my muslim friends, because I don’t know which one. Oh to be in Nigeria, three public holidays in three weeks.

Which reminds me, On my Christmas day walk, (see last post) I was thinking. you know that song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”? It’s an interesting song. It was written for the famine victims of Ethiopia. I can’t speak for any Christians in Ethiopia and I hope we never get that in Nigeria. But I’m sure that Christians in Nigeria would know that it was Christmas, whether they were dying of hunger or not.

I suppose it depends on what we think of as Christmas. Is it about the tree? I decorated my house with what I can only call a Christmas shrub, which I bought from Wilkinson’s for 1 pound, about three years ago. It got out of its hiding place on Christmas eve and returned shortly after the new year. There could never have been room for a present under that. Or is it about all the shopping?

Thanks for the song, but I think that Christians in Ethiopia would probably have realised it was Christmas. And even if Ethiopia is a very prosperous country, I don’t think they’ll celebrate Christmas in the way the famed song writers expect.

See, that should have been part of the Merry Christmas thing. I only remembered it because I was listening to my answerphone a few days ago. Sometimes I don’t get to it on time. Someone left a message. Maybe it was an accidental call, you know those ones, when your mobile dials a number and you don’t know about it. But I heard no voices, just the song “Do they know it’s Christmas” Or maybe it was God reminding me about what I was thinking about.

Oh I forgot, it’s the new year. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be writing about? It’s a time for new beginnings, for new hopes, for new goals, a time to forget about past hurts and disappointments. That’s what everyone says. Is it true? I’ve got a friend, her name is Ife. She’s gone to Nigeria to start a new job. I suppose she’s begun the job now, probably on 2 Jan. Aloted has also returned to get married. Wow! What special new years they’re having.

I’ve got three major goals this year. Please pray for me. They’re tough; God once sent a message to the Israelites; I think it was around the time the temple was being rebuilt. “It’s not by power, not by might, but by My spirit”. They’re tough goals, but that’s what I’m holding onto.

So, it’s a time for new beginnings. God says “I’m doing a new thing”. But I also think it’s a time to continue in the great things that happened last year. Not the bad things mind. I think bad things have their time span, and on January 1, someone asked me again why bad things happen. I’m not ready to provoke a debate, but I said at least two reasons. I talked about the things I always read about, that trials make you grow. It’s even in the Bible, in James, 1 Peter, etc. Then I said that the truth is that the devil exists, and he puts trials in our way. We’ve all read of Job, and we read the encouraging part that God knew his strengths and God did not allow the devil to test him beyond his will. Jesus once said to Peter that satan had asked that he, (Peter) might be sifted like wheat. But Jesus said “I have prayed for you”. Once when I read that, I was so uplifted by the fact that Jesus had Peter’s welfare in mind. But there was more; he said that When Peter had overcome his difficulties, he would lead the disciples. It was not by Peter’s might or power, but by God’s spirit.

I’m wandering off again. Wasn’t I supposed to be writing about continuing in the good of last year? The Bible often reads like a fairy tale. You know, all the good guys always win, after they’ve gone through some difficulty. Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Peter, Paul, even Abraham. If there’s a formula, it must be that they go through their difficulties, still trusting in God. Those difficulties never last, but the greatness of these Bible characters is still being talked about, even this morning as I write. So we need to throw away the bad things of the last year, but not the good, because it’s the good things that last.

And there are many new things that await us this year. I wait with eager expectation for the great things God’s laid out for me. This morning, (or should I say yesterday morning) there was a specific word in church which I believe applied to me, and which talked about success after several failures. I’m holding onto it.

Oh by the way, I wish you all a fantastic new year, rich in blessings, joy and God’s love. And my friend Sylvester Ogbolu, a Nigerian living in Addis Ababa wrote to the Voice of America, requesting a song for me. It’s Christmas day today in the Ethiopian churches. So, on the 25th of December, they probably don’t know it’s Christmas after all. But what about today?