As I am in the US this year for Christmas, I count my blessings every day, on my fingers and toes and the hands of others. They number more than lights on the tree, more than snow flakes on the ground. My blessings rain down more than the rains in Malawi, and call out above Christmas tunes played in busy department stores.
Blessings are gifts, and Christmas is a time to give and receive gifts. But that is our tradition. One of the questions I have been getting most this time is what is Christmas like in Malawi? Do people have Christmas trees or Christmas lights? Do they wrap gifts and open them on Christmas morning or Christmas eve? Is there Santa? Of course, our culture is so dominant around the world that these things have sprung up in the cities of Malawi. But generally, a Malawian Christmas bears no resemblance to an American Christmas.
On Christmas morning, many Malawians will got to church for a worship service, often followed by a meal with the congregation. Slaughtering a goat is a regular custom. Others will enjoy chickens or beef, a rare treat to a typical diet of vegetables, fish, and beans. Some people might enjoy a Coke or a traditional drink called thobwa. People will hear about the birth of Christ and remember the Christmas story. There are few decorations, no Christmas lights, no Christmas trees, no elves, no flying antelope, and no snow. Gifts or sweets are shared where people can afford them.
And that's Christmas in Malawi. It's what many Americans might idolize for it's apparent lack of commercialization and materialism. So let's be thankful for what we have, and thankful for what the Lord has done in our lives. Let's remember the poor and downtrodden in this time of blessings. Let's give of our hearts as much as our wallets. A gift gets it's meaning from the person who gives and the person who receives. Let's put meaning into Christmas. Let's join one another at Christmas dinner with joy in our hearts.
And never forget the beautiful holiday in remembrance of the coming of Jesus Christ. This was not Jesus' Christmas vacation from the right hand of God: rather He came with a purpose to seek and to save; to testify to the truth; and to atone.
Merry Christmas. God bless us all.