Christmas is good news for all. In fact, Christmas means celebrations, get together and meetings at church, merriment with friends and festivity with the family, carnival where there are lots to eat and games to play. Christmas also means presents, gifts in a stocking, presents around a tree, prizes from Father Christmas, and praises from parents. In addition, of course, Christmas means pantomimes and nativity plays, trips to the native villages and visiting relatives and friends' homes, even perhaps trips to the tourist places and attending the music concerts. Everyone loves wearing new clothes and above all the being together with family and friends.

Christmas, however, is not good news for every person. Christmas for many is a time of sadness and of pain. It is not good news for daily wagers, when redundancy looms, nor is it good news for families of farmers who have lost their crops. Is it glad tidings for Srilankan Tamil refugees who experience agony, pain and sufferings in their own country as well as in India due the ethnic conflict? Christmas is not good news either for orphan children go through pain and suffering for their day-to-day survival. Moreover, Christmas is not good news for those who have lost their loved ones in the year that has gone by.

Specially, this Christmas is a not all a good news to the persecuted Church in India, especially to Khandhmal Christians. They are suffering maximum of their life for no reason. They were made no-people and refugees in the society just because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Regarding their sufferings, Evangelical Fellowship of India reports as follows: around 14 districts, 1,100 villages, 35 Christian institutions, 360 Christian workers and 18,000 Christian families were affected.

Around 1100 churches and prayer halls were destroyed. More or less 78,000 Christians were uprooted from their native villages. 100 Christian workers and Christians were killed and 36,000 were injured. As a result, Khandmall Christians live in fear and insecurity every day. Most of them were moved out from their district and staying in the relief camps as refugees. In addition, cold winter is testing their health, especially the children and women who are living in relief camps with limited warm clothes. Innocent children and youth were deprived from their education pursuits due to this heinous act. Their future is bleak.



Yes, this Christmas seems to be a very bad news. It can be the time when the pain of living intensifies. The very fact that Christmas is meant to be a time of happiness only makes their unhappiness all the worse and it exposes the wound and rubs in the salt. Nevertheless, the good news is that precisely for those for whom Christmas seems to be a bad news, it is in fact good news. For Jesus has come into our loneliness and pain. The Word became flesh (John 1:14); Jesus shared our flesh and blood (Heb 2:14). Jesus has entered our world and has shared our human condition. He knows what it is to experience pain: physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain, even spiritual pain. He knows and in knowing, He understands. Moreover, because He knows and understands, He can offer help and strength to those for whom life is dark and miserable.

In this background, the author of Hebrews wrote, "Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb.4:16). God is not unapproachable. God does not live in some ivory tower or mountain remote from human experience. For Jesus is there, at His right hand, Jesus who can feel for us and with us. Here is good news for the lonely and the weak, for those for whom life is dark and bleak. Life does not have to be lived in our own strength. For Jesus who came is the Jesus who is ready and waiting to give help to us all. So in the words of paraphrase of our text: "Let not let it slip through our fingers… Let us walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help."

We, Christians, therefore, have a greater responsibility towards our persecuted brothers and sisters. It is an imperative to participate in their sufferings consciously to share what we have. Hence, this is an urgent call for all Christians to come forward to share the pain of Khandhmal Christians through our gifts. We can share our resources through our Churches, Christian institutions or relief organizations like EFICOR, WORLD VISION, COMPASSION, etc. We, Equipping People for Excellence in Leadership, visited violence victims recently and distributed warm clothes, sariees, utensils, food materials for ten days, and water purifiers for fifty families who are living in the relief camps in Cuttack with the help of Orissa Scripture Union staff. Likewise, we urge every Christian to reduce all their extravagant celebrations to share their means with Khandmall brothers and sisters. Hope we will celebrate this Christmas with a difference.

WISHING YOU ALL A MEANINGFUL CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOUR.