Christmas message from the Archbishop of Uganda

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“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night…Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

               “’Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’.” (Luke 2.8-14)

My fellow Ugandans, I send you Christmas greetings in Jesus’ name.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, I want to announce our theme for next year. Next year our theme shall be “Life in its Fullness.” This is taken from Jesus’ words in John 10.10, where he says, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”

If you asked every Ugandan the question, “Do you want to have an abundant life?”, I think everyone would answer, “Yes.”

“Yes, I want to have an abundant life.”

“Yes, I want to have life in its fullness.”

Jesus tells us that He is the only way to get that abundant life. He is the only way to have “Life in its Fullness.”

This will be our theme for 2021 because “Life in its Fullness” is the result of the conversion of a sin-sick heart; the conversion of the head through mindset change; and the conversion of the hands by minding your own health.

In 2020 we have seen what happens when we let sin-sick hearts be in charge; when we are stuck in old mindsets that can’t respond to the new challenges before us; when we neglect to do the right thing for the public health of everyone around us. That’s why in 2021 we will emphasize this theme of “Life in its Fullness.”

We extend our sincere condolences to those who have lost their dear ones this year, and especially to those who have lost family members to COVID-19. We stand in prayer with those who are still struggling to recover.

We appreciate the government’s diligent efforts to educate us about this pandemic, to show us how we can uphold life, and to care for those who found themselves infected with Covid-19.

At the same time that we are fighting this invisible virus that is stealing lives and health, we are also facing elections in less than a month. And, we also seem to be fighting one another.

We need a truce. The fighting and the violence need to stop.

As important as elections are, politics is not our salvation. Only Jesus is our salvation. His name literally means “Saviour” and he is the only one who can save us. This is why I have said over and over that we need a holistic conversion of our head, heart, and hands. Only this holistic conversion will bring us “Life in its Fullness,” which will be our theme for next year.

This is why I, as your Archbishop, speak to you not only about spiritual matters, but also about your head and your hands. The “abundant life” Jesus promised us is for the whole of our life. The salvation that Jesus offers us is a holistic salvation.

This is why today I want to speak clearly to you about three things:

  1. The coronavirus and Covid-19 are real. We have clergy who have been infected and have told us about the challenges they faced while recovering.  I thank them for sharing their stories and helping to break the stigma. We have lost leaders and loved ones, and, once again, we extend our sincerest condolences to all those families. I beg you – Please follow ALL of the SOPs – most importantly, wear your mask so that it covers both your nose and your mouth, and WASH YOUR HANDS for 20 seconds many times in a day.
  1. Gender-based violence is the second thing I want to address. We’ve had another epidemic this year of gender-based violence, especially during the most severe part of lockdown. There seems to be a lot of anger inside of us that unleashes itself on the people closest to us. There are other ways of dealing with anger than taking it out violently on others. Jesus shows us a better way and how forgiveness can break the cycle of revenge in our families and communities. We need a truce this Christmas in our families and communities and we need to break the cycle of revenge. Please allow Jesus to come into your hearts so you can experience peace and the abundant life He promises us.
  1. Finally, I want to talk about campaigns and elections. Elected leaders are important in any country’s governance, and Christians are called to exercise their electoral responsibilities of voting and making their voices heard in the public square. At the same time, we need to also recognize that politicians are not worth dying for. Politicians can’t die for the sins of the world. So don’t put your life on the line for them! Only Jesus died for the sins of the world. Only Jesus is worth following to the point of death.
    1. I want to remind you that as religious leaders we have already met with the Electoral Commission, the Police, and several political candidates. We have urged all of them to exercise restraint and to promote the values of civility and respect in the way campaigns are handled.
    2. We now ask you, our fellow Ugandans, to not allow yourselves to be manipulated by the shallow promises of politicians or to get overly excited by campaigns or to expect a human politician to be your personal Saviour. Study the issues and people deeply and seriously, and then vote your conscience. Don’t sell your soul for cheap promises.
    3. We call on the electoral commission to guard the integrity and objectivity of the electoral process so that it is above reproach and can never be accused of favoring one candidate above another. Ugandans deserve nothing less than that.
    4. As the Church of Uganda, we are learning more every week about how to use digital communications as a church. I thank all our Diocesan leaders, the Organizing Committee, and the speakers who participated virtually in the first Archbishop’s Leadership Summit and made it such a success. We, therefore, call on politicians to rely less on large crowds of people for campaigning and ask them to lead the way in using digital media for communication and campaign purposes.

Jesus promised, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” This is first and foremost an invitation into a saving relationship with Jesus who also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”

Secondly, we need a mindset change for our relationships so we reduce gender-based violence and also value the lives of our friends and family members by observing the SOPs to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Most new infections are from people close to us – a friend or relative who exposed us.

Finally, we need a conversion of our hands – to not look for quick salvation from politicians, but to look to Jesus and his way of life to give us “Life in its Fullness.” Yes, politics is important for our common life as a country. But, it is not the ONLY thing.

The ONLY thing that really matters is Jesus who was born to be the Saviour of the world and of whom the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

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 is the Saviour of the world, Jesus the Christ.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!

Signed,

The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba

ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.