fbpx

This time of year is special in many countries. Soon it will be Christmas. Ruby Jones and Marina Santee look at some of the ways that Christians celebrate this month before Christmas.

Voice 1

Hello, I’m Marina Santee.

Voice 2

And I’m Ruby Jones. Welcome to Spotlight. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Click here to follow along with this program on YouTube.

Voice 1

This time of year is special in many countries. Soon it will be Christmas. Christmas is the day when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but all kinds of people celebrate Christmas as a holiday. In today’s programme, we look back in history to a time before Jesus Christ was born. We think about the people who were waiting for someone to rescue them from their struggles. Their concerns were for the problems that were affecting them at that time. But the Christmas message goes beyond that. We consider how hope for a better future can help people in their present situation today – however difficult it is.

Voice 3

“A child is born to us. A son is given to us. God has given him the right to govern. People will call him a Wise Guide, powerful God, Father for ever, the Prince of Peace.”

Voice 2

These words are from an English translation of the Bible. In fact they are from the older part of the Bible. This part of the Bible is important for both Jews and Christians. The original words were written in the Hebrew language, more than 2,500 years ago! But they were talking about future events. The man who wrote them was a prophet, a messenger of God. His name was Isaiah. Isaiah lived in the land of Judah – part of modern day Israel and the West Bank. Judah was ruled by one king after another. Some were good kings, but most were bad. When Isaiah wrote his words, Judah was about to be attacked by its enemies. The people were afraid. And so God told Isaiah these words to speak to the people:

Voice 3

“A child is born to us. A son is given to us. God has placed the right to govern in his hands.”

Voice 1

Isaiah’s words helped many of the people at that time. The promise of someone who would govern a kingdom of justice and peace was like a light in their darkness. In time, a new king came to power In Judah. His name was Hezekiah. He trusted God and saved his people from the attackers.

Voice 2

Jewish belief is that Isaiah’s words were only about the good king, Hezekiah. But some of the words seem to go beyond describing any normal king – words like mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. Not even a king could live up to these words.

However, there is a second part to the Bible. This second part is part of the Christian Bible, but not the Jewish Bible. From this newer part of the Bible, Christians understand that Isaiah was talking about Jesus. We need to remember that Jesus was not born until seven hundred years after Isaiah. Christians believe that God gave these words to describe the birth and power of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not a normal ruler. He did not have a kingdom on earth. But Christians believe that Jesus is alive today in heaven. They believe he rules God’s kingdom – and he rules in their hearts. And they believe that Jesus will come again to earth, and he will be seen to rule over everything.

Voice 1

Christians remember the period of waiting before Jesus arrived, 2,000 years ago. They call it, ‘Advent’ – looking forward to the arrival of someone that people have long been hoping for. So, Advent also marks the Christian hope that Jesus Christ will come again.

Voice 2

All this raises questions. How does anyone know that Jesus is ruling in their hearts? How does it show in the lives of normal Christians in the 21st century? Most Christians would say that their problems do not go away – but they say they can live with their difficulties, and still have inner joy and peace. They say they do not lose hope. Here is one example of this:

For the people of Zimbabwe, trusting God is the main thing that helps them survive. This southern African country has experienced severe economic problems. Local people lack necessary things such as clean water and bread. Yet in the middle of this difficult situation, some Zimbabwe Christians can still speak of their faith in God.

Voice 1

Joseph drank some water from a pipe, but he did not know that the pipe was broken, and the water was dirty. Since that time, he has suffered constantly from stomach problems. He talks honestly about his situation:

Voice 4

“What is my hope? That is a difficult question. I would say that God has got the answer to this situation. I know someone out there can help me. Someone can understand the problems I and my family face. Someone can give me some food, some clothes, some financial help. I think prayer can be an answer to all these questions. I would say so, because I believe in God.”

Voice 1

Mannymore agrees with these words. He is a church leader in the town where Joseph lives. He says:

Voice 5

“We have tried to solve the problems ourselves. We have tried politics. It does not work. The only one who can help us is Jesus Christ. Often there seem to be no choices. But at those times he provides us with something to eat and something to drink.”

Voice 2

Joseph and Mannymore face huge problems. But they are waiting and living in hope of a better world – just like the people of Judah long ago. It is a time of advent for them.

Christians traditionally remember Advent on the four weeks before December the 25th – Christmas Day. On each of the four Sundays in advent, there is a small ceremony. In the ceremony, someone lights a candle. They remember the people years ago, waiting for Jesus to come. And they remember people today who are waiting for him to come again. A fifth, gold candle is kept for Christmas Day. It represents Jesus, the light of hope shining in a dark world.

Voice 1

For many Christians, Advent is a time to stop and think. It is a time of quiet before the busyness of Christmas celebrations. It is a time to remember the birth of Jesus. And it is a time to look forward to a better world. They may pray a prayer, such as this:

Voice 3

“Come, Lord Jesus – do not delay. Give new courage to your people who trust in your love. Amen.”

Voice 1

The writers of today’s programme were Ruby Jones and Mike Procter. The producer was Ruby Jones. The voices you heard were from South Africa, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this programme. This programme is called, “Advent.”

Voice 2

Thank you for joining us today. Goodbye.

Question:

Christians in many countries will celebrate Christmas this month. Do you celebrate Christmas? Are there Christmas decorations where you live? What kind of things do you see?

Join the discussion

2 comments
  • Well Here in Venezuela we celebrate the Christmas completely as a season. The whole month we are always eating traditional food like hallacas and ham bread and hearing our traditional Christmas’ music called gaitas and aguinaldos. We also have the Christmas tree and many colored lights but we added up El Nacimiento, a small representation of the nativity made with little figures around a mangre.

  • This year I have rarely followed these programs, but I am always in love with Spotlight and in Advent I am even more so, because it is the most beautiful time of the year and we all feel like brothers. Also the Christmas stories are my favorite. To answer the question posed, I say that I attached a wooden puppet to the entrance door of the apartment and I placed a series of colored lights in the kitchen which, when turned on, form a fantastic play of lights. Furthermore, in the central square of my city in Italy, a large Christmas tree has been placed with decorations and lights of all colors which will be turned on for the first time today, December 8th.

More from this show

Episode 10