(Sermon by Archbishop Daniel Okoh, President of Christian Association of Nigeria, at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols held at the Bouquet Hall of the State House, Abuja on Tuesday, December 19, 2023)
- I am delighted to be part of this Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and I wish to express my gratitude to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) and his dear wife, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for giving my wife (a musicologist) and I the opportunity to not only listen to good music but to sing along with the brethren to the glory of the newborn King and to share the word of God with this distinguished audience this evening.
- Sisters and Brothers, this Christmas is special to us in Nigeria in the sense that it is the first Christmas Celebration after the General elections that saw the emergence of the Distinguished Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the affirmation of his election victory by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Congratulations, once again, Your Excellency. It is the Christmas that many Nigerians are looking up with renewed hope that things will get better. And I pray that things will certainly get better in the name of Jesus Christ. Immanuel in Nigeria, the hope of glory.
- I would like to use this opportunity to appreciate our dear President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his sensitivity to the diverse nature of our nation and for demonstrating commitment to foster a sense of inclusiveness in governance in these few months he assumed the leadership of Nigeria. May God Almighty prosper his efforts at making peace and prioritizing security in our nation. In his tenure, Nigeria will flourish again.
- Brethren, General Elections that were keenly contested this year have come and gone; and we now have a sitting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It can only be one President at a time. There is a need for a genuine reconciliation among individuals, families, groups, and communities to join forces to address our common challenges as a nation. The season of celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace, who is the word made flesh, affords us, as children of God, a golden opportunity to reflect on the length that the Almighty God went to reconcile Himself with depraved and estranged humanity.(Ephesians 2:15-18). According to the abundance of His grace, He left the comfortable, heavenly places and came into the hopeless, broken world like a baby in a very poor, lowly, and humble condition (Luke 2:7) to dwell among us (John 1:14) so that He will redeem us, the condemned, and restore the erstwhile communion with humans. (Romans 5:11).
- On the night that Jesus was born, the heavenly hosts filled the air with their joyful song:
“Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).
They were announcing and celebrating the Peace that Jesus brought to the world at His birth. Apostle Paul went on to say of this Good News,
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation”. (2 Corinthians 5:18 & 19). In this passage, we were told that Christ forgave our sins while we were sinners and enemies of God. He showed us His love and drew us closer to Himself and also involved us in giving leadership to reconciliation among individuals and communities. All believers therefore should be the Champions of reconciliation and not Champions of crisis and division.
The works of Reconciliation were completed on the cross of Calvary by Jesus more than 2000 years and He has since given us the Message of Reconciliation. This is the time to let go of all bitterness and forgive one another as Christ forgave us so that we may experience genuine peace with one another and enjoy peace in our communities. Learning from the Prince of Peace, we must love our enemies! Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies’. But now I tell you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). It is instructive to note that Jesus loved us while we were sinners and came to reconcile us with God. The Celebration of Christmas should not be with only our friends but must be a time that we go the extra mile to personally forgive and overlook offenses to make reconciliation with our enemies.
The truth is that reconciliation is not complete until one reconciles with all. In the spirit of Christmas, therefore, I urge every one of us to take the first bold step, bear the burden of peace, and reach out to our enemies with the message of reconciliation. This is not the time to pull others down but a time to build, encourage, and grow. Therefore, let us rally around our leaders and offer our support so that the peace that will ensure growth and development will come. Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of gifted persons; let everyone look out for opportunities to serve and make one’s humble contribution to make Nigeria great again. The approach of His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to his political opponents after his election and inauguration is quite commendable.
He continues to reach out across boundaries to every Nigerian to work together for a better Nigeria. So far, His Excellency, President Tinubu and his dear wife, Distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu, have shown that they are truly fathers and mothers of the nation. Your magnanimity shall be rewarded. Dear Brethren, I urge you to, in the spirit of Christmas, pause and check: Who do you need to rebuild a broken relationship with this Christmas? Be bold to lead in settling your relationship with people this season and you will be glad you did. Peace among individuals, families, and communities will foster sustainable development.
- In this your first Christmas in office, Your Excellency, the Christian Community in Nigeria come to you with the love of God to pray for your success in your mission to move Nigeria from the present pitiable state to an enviable state of prosperity. You have extended a hand of fellowship to us and we embrace you and your family with the love of Christ and promise to partner with you in nation building for the task is quite daunting. You will not stumble and you will not fall. In your time, all Nigerians who emigrated from Nigeria in search of greener pastures shall return with joy and their mouths shall be filled with laughter and their tongue with singing like the people of old Israel who returned from exile. (Psalm 126:1 & 2).
- Finally, I urge all of us to keep trusting God and believing the assurances of the presence of God with us – Immanuel – for our hope is sure when we trust in Him. He will protect us when we take refuge in Him. (Proverbs 30:5). As we celebrate, let us remember those who are on the margins of society – the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and those who are wounded emotionally, physically, and spiritually so that they can rejoice as well.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!
Harvest of testimonies as Nigerian Pastor Jerry Eze storms London with NSPPD conference
A groundswell of testimonies has been recorded at the New Season Prophetic Prayers and Declaration, NSPPD, United Kingdom conference convened by the founder of Streams of Joy International Church, Pastor Jerry Eze.
The two-day conference which was held at the iconic Excel Arena in London, United Kingdom, had over 70, 000 attendees.
Thousands of worshipers both on the ground and online testified of receiving miracles and divine healings as Pastor Eze ministers.
At the event, numerous testimonies were shared including that of a dumb speaking, and people who came with clutches in their hundreds but left the program without it.
There were also testimonies of divine connections, miracle jobs, and marital settlements.
Award-winning Nigerian gospel artiste, Nathaniel Bassey, led the worship session, alongside others.
A popular data compilation website, Playboard.co, reported that Pastor Eze’s NSPPD UK conference was the “most super chatted gospel channel” as of Tuesday, June 20, 2023.
According to the data compilation website, Eze’s ministry as of 06/20/2023, had 878,307 views daily and 231,432,855 total views.
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