Over the years, we have experienced from childhood to adulthood that the joys of Christmas differ from that of any other occasion. No matter what our situation in life is, it is always overwhelmed by the spirit of Christmas. It puts a smile on the saddest face, it brings together families who are torn apart by animosity, and the sick even try to be healed, not wanting to be on the sickbed on Christmas day, the family provider always finds ways and means to make available food on the table, but above all Christmas drives everyone to be generous. Everyone is extra nice to everyone they meet. The Christmas spirit melts and overcomes even the hardest heart.
For us Christians, Christmas is when God becomes man; the Creator becomes a creature like us and the Almighty becomes powerless. God displays humility and mercy. He even opts for His son to be born in a manger instead of a castle, wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of a rich wardrobe worthy of a King. And to lay witness to his birth are the shepherds and the animals. Christmas is a time of great joy as we welcome into our hearts and our homes into our villages and towns, the Word Incarnate who comes to affirm us as we are, by “pitching his tent amongst us and becoming one of us”.
Paradoxically, Christmas is also the time when our own transformation and empowerment take root. It is a unique time when our human redemption is promulgated when our Redeemer is born of a human mother, the Virgin Mary and thanks to the Paschal Mystery (passion, death and resurrection) we are not only liberated but we are also enabled to share God’s life and empowered to participate in the mission of Christ to build the Kingdom of God in our midst by working for the transformation of society and the world based on the values of the Kingdom; namely 10 commandments etc
Fellow Bougainvilleans, I bring this message of hope and good tidings during this festive season. Indeed Christmas is a time for us to look into ourselves and reflect on its real meaning. Christmas starts with Christ. The early missionaries brought to us and our Melanesian culture the faith that has kept Christ alive in our hearts and our homes. Our recognition and acceptance of Christ in our lives have strengthened our resolve to live our lives to the fullest each day of the year. We, the people of Bougainville have gone through a lot of trials and sufferings but we were not deterred; nor did we crumble and surrender to these challenges. Instead, because we kept our sight on Christ we have persevered and will continue to do so as we all train our eyes and follow the road to full Autonomy and eventually our independence.
Our decision to be autonomous is a privilege that you and I must guard and uphold. It is an opportunity given only to us and nowhere else in the Southern Hemisphere. Let this honour not slip through our grip or we shall lose everything we have dreamed and aspired for not only for us today but also for the future generation we may not even live to see.
Christmas brings out in every person the spirit of giving and not so much of receiving. The Father by giving his Son to mankind has served as a model for us to do the same. Christmas drives and encourages us to give. More so, Christmas teaches us to be humble. In this same spirit, I call on you to give in all humility what you can to Bougainville.
I ask you to give your unconditional support in our efforts to create public and community awareness to the gains of autonomy and eventually our independence.
I ask you to give and lend your voice in denouncing all forms of corruption and mishandling of public funds.
I ask you to give your unwavering commitment in your own small way to dismantle and undo all forms of barricades to unity.
I ask you to give your time to teach your children and families the value of respect for the rule of law and due process.
I ask you to give your contribution to cultivate the culture of meritocracy rather than mendicancy. Self-sufficiency, hard work and sacrifice liberate us from dependence, idleness and mediocrity.
I ask you to give your heart and soul to toil with me and this imperfect government as we uplift the living conditions of everyone in Bougainville.
I ask you to give the Bougainville Peace Agreement a chance to succeed. Only you and I can make that happen and no one else.
Christmas reminds us of this call. Christmas impels us to work on our dreams. Keeping the spirit of Christmas in our hearts and homes 365 days of the year will finally unshackle us from the chains of the past, the greed and materialism that have obsessed the lives of many of our politicians and public servants. We welcome the year 2016 with a renewed heart. The change that we all desire for Bougainville begins in our hearts and our homes. Give what you can to Bougainville.
As we usher in a new year, once again we find ourselves standing at the threshold of a new dawn, a new beginning we are reminded by our Christian faith that the child who is born on Christmas and becomes one of us invites us to participate in His mission of building the Father’s kingdom which for us the people of Bougainville includes our collective responsibility to fully implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement to ensure that the final outcome of referendum on our ultimate political status will be peaceful.
Let me conclude with a prayer for all of you:
Gracious, loving and merciful God, on this Christmas season, as the light of your Word penetrates our hearts, as we are reminded of the gift of life and faith, as the glories of the heavenly hosts are echoed in our church, we open ourselves up to your Spirit and give you thanks. We are grateful, Lord Jesus, that your story has become our story, and we celebrate your birth.
Continue, we pray, to instil in us a profound sense of your abiding presence, and help us to take to heart the wonder of your love, that we may walk in your ways and delight in your will.
Help us, Lord God, to be the faithful, gracious, loving, giving and forgiving people you would have us be.
Bless Bougainville, bless its people. Amen!
From me and Lady Elizabeth—a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all of you and your loved ones!
HON. DR. CHIEF JOHN L. MOMIS, GCL, MHR
Autonomous Region of Bougainville