Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi, Head of State of Samoa
Christmas is our lodestar. It offers us hope and redemption.
Cardinal Neumann wrote a poem about our yearning for light and redemption; a kindly leading light that can lead us, as he says, out of “encircling gloom”; that can lead us on even when “the night is dark” and when we are “far from home”, guiding us back safely, one step at a time. In his own words the Cardinal said: “Keep thou my feet I do not ask to see / The distant scene – one step enough for me”.
In Luke chapter 21 verse 25, the Bible says, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and there will be distress on earth among the nations that are confused by the roaring of the sea and its waves”.
In the story of Christmas the Star, known as the Star of the Messiah, offered a guiding light to the Magi. It led them to Christ in Nazareth. Because of their faith in the message of Christ and in God the ultimate messenger, the Magi travelled hundreds of miles, following the Star, to find the child who will redeem man and offer peace to the world.
The Star led the Magi to Bethlehem where they found Jesus in a humble stable lying in a manger, his birth witnessed and celebrated by his family, his parents and the stable animals. The gift of Christ’s birth is the gift of family, of life,
hope and humility.
In the Samoan story of the palolo, the moon is guiding light. It was the moon that told us about when the palolo would rise and breed. Dressed in fragrant headbands and garlands of flowers our forebears would go out to sea to celebrate and partake in the sensual aromas and sacred rhythms of nature, and in the miracle and gift of new life. They would celebrate by reciting the usu fanau ritual chant which recognised, celebrated and encouraged the birth of life by chanting in gentle and massaging tones: Fanau mai! Fanau mai! Life be born! Life be born!
God speaks to us through the stars, the moon and the sun. He speaks to us through the message of family and birthing. He shows us in language and through the miracle of life that we share a common womb (‘afu’afu), a common home (ofaga), a common genealogical root (tafu’e), and a common identity and destiny (fa’asinomaga). He says that we – in our humanity – whether in our families, villages, governments, businesses, schools, or churches, all need the kindly light of Christmas.
I want to end my Christmas message with the words of the EFKS hymn that sees in Jesus Christ the power of the sun to give us kindly light:
Jesus look through the light of the sun
Into the darkness of my heart
Lest a cloud intrudes
And hides you from my sight.
May you feel God’s kindly light this Christmas; his love and his peace. And may you feel it in the growth, warmth and beauty of each other and our natural environment.
Merry Christmas and God bless.