Christmas is coming. Elections are also coming. As a spiritual leader and Archbishop of the Church of Uganda I want to make sure we realize the two things are not the same.
As important as the electoral process is – and I will have some important things to say about that – politics is not our salvation.
In Matthew chapter 1, verse 21, an Angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph, Mary’s husband, and said, “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
My fellow Ugandans, politics is not our salvation. Only Jesus is our salvation. The name ‘Jesus’ literally means Saviour. He is the only one who can save us.
Peter preached to the religious leaders of his day and said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4.12)
This is the message of Christmas and it is also the message for Uganda in this election season. Politics and candidates will not save us. ONLY JESUS can save us.
So, I call upon all Ugandans to examine their heart. I ask you, “Who are you looking to for your salvation?” If you’re looking anywhere else apart from Jesus, you are looking in the wrong place.
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9.6).
This is the message of Christmas, and this is also the message I urge all politicians, candidates, and voters to uphold as we move through this election season.
Jesus is our “Wonderful Counsellor.” When each of us goes to the polling station to cast our ballot, we are exercising our constitutional right and responsibility. But, how do we know who we should vote for? Pray…Jesus is our “Wonderful Counsellor.” Vote for candidates on the basis of their merit, not because they are giving away soap or sugar.
Jesus is our “Mighty God.” He is sufficient. I urge all politicians to renounce sacrifices for the sake of campaigning, and I urge all Ugandans to resist for violence.
Jesus is also our “Prince of Peace.” As followers of this “Prince of Peace,” I call on all of us during this election season to be agents of peace and stability. Let us focus on building the electoral structures and processes that foster the democracy of our constitution and together keep Uganda peaceful.
One of the songs from the Uganda Youth Praise songbook says, “They are watching you, marking all you do, hearing the things you say. Let them see the Saviour as He shines in you, let His Power control you every day.”
That is our message for Christmas and our message for this election season.
During the Pope’s recent visit to Uganda, I had the privilege of escorting him through the new Uganda Martyrs’ Museum at the Anglican Shrine in Namugongo. The torture and suffering of our martyrs is graphically shown by the work of the artists in the museum and it is very touching. I encourage everyone to visit the new museum. The Pope was visibly moved. As he meditated on the common suffering of the Roman Catholic and Anglican martyrs, he said to me, “This is ecumenism.”
I also believe that as we meditate this Christmas on the manger where the One who came to save ALL of us was born – that we can say, “This is ecumenism.” Jesus came for ALL of us. He came to be THE Saviour – not just the Saviour of Anglicans or Pentecostals or Roman Catholics. But, he was born to save ALL of us.
I want to thank my predecessor, retired Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, for his tireless efforts and visionary leadership in developing the Martyrs Museum in such a way that it will preserve and promote the history of the Martyrs so that their deaths were not in vain. He and his team are building a great legacy for the people of Uganda – the people that Jesus was born to save.
I want to especially thank our President, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, for his generous contributions to ensure that both martyrs’ shrines were upgraded and ready to appropriately receive the Pope during his recent visit. The amount and extent of work that was done at both sites is amazing and surely it brings glory to God.
I want to thank my colleague and brother in Christ, Roman Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, for the job well done by his team in preparing the people of Uganda to receive the Pope and for allowing all God’s people in Uganda to be part of the welcoming team. It was a great honour to join hands together and not only talk about ecumenism, but to live it.
I send warm Christmas greetings to President Yoweri Museveni, Maama Janet and their entire family and all our government leaders. All candidates contesting in elections. All the Bishops and their wives, the Clergy, Lay Readers and Christians of the Church of Uganda. I also send my sincere greetings, along with prayers for a blessed Christmas for our Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal brethren, and all those who have looked in hope for the coming of the One who will save people from their sins, Jesus the Christ.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA