29 September, 2020

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From Dreams And Visions To Realities And Hope: A Christmas Reflection

By Bishop Duleep de Chickera –  

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Christmas 2014      

We keep Christmas this year amidst manifestoes, dreams and visions.

Politicians want power; they resort to lofty manifestoes. People long for sincere governance and bread at affordable prices; they persist in dreaming dreams. Prophets resent deceit; they dare to see visions. Some scheme, most dream and others see visions; this is the gist of our political realities.

The birth of the Christ child

The birth of Christ occurred amidst conflicting agendas.

More than enough was not enough for the greedy Roman Empire. This is a disease that Buddhism calls tanha; the endless craving for power, possession and pleasure. Tanha is also bondage. The empire was not free to dream dreams and see visions. Instead its’ task was to fleece the people by obstructing dreams and visions.

The people faced increasing hardship. They had had enough. Yet most were unable to dream. They were afflicted with another disease; hopelessness. They had given up on justice and freedom.

Interpreters of religious truth had distorted their priceless legacy. Accessibility to the halls of power and institutional security were more rewarding than their noble mandate to contest deceit and relieve human hardship. They embraced those who fleeced and harassed the poor and turned their back on the very poor who fed them.

Dreams

But another agenda was unfolding. Joseph the worker-carpenter laboured hard and clean and managed with a little. He was a man of conscience. He slept well and was able to dream. His dreams are about human security. The first urges him to protect Mary even though the child she carried was not his own. He stands with her. Together they deliver and nurture the Christ child.

Another dream warns him that the baby is in danger. He reads the contemporary political happenings accurately. Herod is ruthless and has no ethical boundaries. The land of their birth is unsafe. The family become refugees to protect the Christ child.

Visions

Mary, the village girl sees visions. She is a prophet. Prophets are not men only. Her visions are about change. The first vision calls her to a daunting assignment. There will be risk, misunderstanding and criticism. Refusal is the easy way out. And yet she senses she can make a difference. Her response is a cautious but courageous “yes”; she will carry the Christ child.

Her second vision grows from the first. God will honour her “yes” and bring change. The baby she carries will grow to reverse the greed and deceit of this and all empires. The haughty-mighty will be brought down and God’s little people, humiliated and deprived, will be filled with good things. Mary breaks out into song. She is privileged to be part of this change which dawns with the Christ child.

Realities

Dreams and visions of human security and social change are fundamental to the well-being of all nations.

Today human security is known to grow around a cluster of freedoms. These include freedom from hunger, displacement and unlawful eviction, freedom from religious intolerance and ethnic humiliation, freedom from ignorance and censorship, freedom from corruption and deceit, freedom from sexual violence and gender discrimination, freedom from political intimidation and economic exploitation and freedom from pollution and global warming.

Where human security is lacking, distorted or compromised, the people and those who aspire to govern are obliged to bring change.

Those who aspire to govern must remember they derive authority from the people. Their mandate is to further the good of the people and not their own interests. They are also to be reminded that people are not commodities; they are a nation’s most valuable resource. Consequently the role of governance is to enable the peoples’ potential to flourish for the common good and step aside. This is why styles of domineering and patronising governance must be contested. They steal the sovereignty of the people.

Christmas reminds us that the dreams and visions of humans are to probe manifestoes and engage with governance, continuously. It is in this interaction that we rediscover our national conscience and keep hope alive.

With Peace and Blessings to all!

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    Isa Ibn Maryam ( Arabic:ʿĪsā) (English: Jesus, son of Mary), or Jesus in the New Testament, is considered to be a Messenger of God and al-Masih (the Messiah) in Islam, who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā’īl) with a new scripture, al-Injīl (the Gospel). The belief that Jesus is a prophet is required in Islam. This is reflected in the fact that he is clearly a significant figure in the Qur’an, appearing in 93 ayaat (or verses), though Noah, Adam and Moses appear with even greater frequency.

    It states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing the blind, bringing dead people back to life, etc.) which no other prophet in Islam has ever been credited with, all by the permission of God rather than of his own power. According to the Quran, Jesus, although appearing to have been crucified, was not killed by crucifixion or by any other means; instead, “God raised him unto Himself”.

    In the 19th Sura of the Quran (in verses 15 and 33), Jesus is blessed on “the day he was born and the day he will die and the day he is raised alive”, which clearly declares that Jesus will experience a natural death in some future day, and will be raised again on the day of judgment day just like the rest of us.

    Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path” as commanded by God. Traditionally, Islam teaches the rejection of the Trinitarian Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God. The Quran says that Jesus himself never claimed to be the Son of God (nowhere mentioned in any of the Gospels), and it furthermore indicates that Jesus will deny having ever claimed divinity at the Last Judgment, and God will vindicate him. Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God (shirk), emphasizing a strict notion of monotheism (tawhīd).

    Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Quran and in Islamic literature, the most common being al-Masīḥ (“the Messiah”). Jesus is also, at times, called “Seal of the Israelite Prophets”, because, in general Muslim believe, Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to guide the Children of Israel. Jesus is traditionally understood in Islam to have been a precursor to Prophet Muhammad (PBOH), and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter’s coming; however, this is a traditional understanding taken from the Gospel itself, but not declared in the Quran.

    Jesus is unique for being the only prophet in Islam who neither married nor had any children. Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal (“the false messiah”, also known as the Antichrist). Jesus will not return as a new prophet; Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet, but will continue from where he left off at the time of his ascension.

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      Bishop Duleep de Chickera,

      The People of Lanka, Originally the Land of native Veddah Aethho (People), await Liberation from the Medamulana MaRa, Mara.

      There is hope that the Devil Mara will be extinguished and the there will be new year and new era in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

      People deserve it after all these devilish years, courtesy of Medamulana MaRa , his Shills, his Cronies and white-washers.

      Happy MaRa Free New Year

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    I can understand the essence of this message that Bishop de Chikera wants to convey. But he has indeed confused me by the sentence which I quote below under the caption Dreams. (I hope he has been quoted correctly.)

    “The first urges him to protect Mary even though the child she carried was not his own.”

    I do not want to analyze this in detail due to religious sensitivities involved. I would have much preferred had he re-phrased his sentence as follows:

    “The first urges him to protect Mary and the child she was bearing.”

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    Chickera,
    A very Merry and Holy Christmas to you and the fold!

    You seem rather uninspired and misguided, however.

    Christ, whilst being born in a manger to humble parents, extolled the power and authority of the Romans. He never condemned them but said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” He condemned the Pharisees however, for being pompous and sanctimonious. Indeed, his whole death was about the sins of persons like the Pharisees.

    So! In comparing Lankans political situation today, one wonders further by reflecting on Christ’s message.

    The manifestos will certainly be read and pondered upon. Thanks for the advice!

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    Today human security is known to grow around a cluster of freedoms. These include freedom from hunger, displacement and unlawful eviction, freedom from religious intolerance and ethnic humiliation, freedom from ignorance and censorship, freedom from corruption and deceit, freedom from sexual violence and gender discrimination, freedom from political intimidation and economic exploitation and freedom from pollution and global warming.

    Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lord. We must revere his Life revealing God and Being the Word in the Christmas Season . We are all given a calling. A vision. We are the Body of Christ. Our many Members have different tasks. We all must have the Fruit. We must use the Spiritual Gifts and abilities to do Works such as praying for the sick and prophesying.The above para is a large section of the works we have to do in Sri Lank. Let us dare to be a Daniel or Joseph where we are in a minority. Our God is able.In prayer, in the Word and with christian fellowship we must let our works be a light to the World..

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