[Anglican Church of Uganda] The angel of the Lord told Joseph, “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1.21) The name ‘Jesus’ literally means “The Lord saves.”
The world into which Jesus was born was not a good place. His Jewish people did not have their own country; they were living under an oppressive, colonial government. Their Roman overlords were corrupt, harsh, and recruited other Jews to extort money from them through outrageously high taxes. Zaccheus was one of those Jewish tax collectors the Romans recruited. He stole a lot of money from his people in order to make himself rich at their expense.
There was a lot of idolatry in the occupying government and among the colonialists. They burned incense to the Roman King, and even sacrificed children to other gods.
There was also a lot of immorality in the world into which Jesus was born. There was financial corruption. People engaged in sexual immorality and did many sinful things to satisfy their sexual appetites. They had many sexual relations and then had abortions to kill the children conceived by those unions. There was also homosexual practice, and widows and orphans were abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
The world into which Jesus was born was not a nice place. And, yet, it sounds a lot like our Uganda of today – except that we have our own independence and freedom. We no longer have colonial overlords. Instead, our corruption means one Ugandan is stealing from another Ugandan. We are doing these things to ourselves.
The Uganda of today faces many of the same challenges as the world into which Jesus was born:
- Corruption has reached epic proportions;
- There has been a resurgence of idolatry, witchcraft, and human sacrifice;
- Sexual immorality is killing our people;
- Greed and selfishness are rampant and leave many people, especially widows and orphans, in helpless states.
And, yet, at this time of the year, we celebrate and remember the birth of a unique baby – one called Jesus because “he will save people from their sins.” As we come to the close of 2011 and prepare to enter 2012, there is still hope for our Uganda because Jesus’ name still means “he will save people from their sins.”
There is still hope for our families and our country…because Jesus is still the Saviour of the world. Our government is very important to the proper order and functioning of our country, but the government is not the Saviour. Only Jesus is the Saviour, because his name still means “he will save people from their sins.”
The best our government can do – the IGG, the Anti-Corruption Court, laws passed by Parliament and enforced by our police and other agencies – is to give us moral and civil speed governors, external rules that are followed by us only because the police force or Parliamentary Investigative Committees have been expanded to put fear into our hearts and ensure our compliance and proper behavior.
But, God said through the Prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant…It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers….This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”
In other words, my fellow Ugandans, we must acknowledge that the problem beneath our rampant corruption, witchcraft, child sacrifice, domestic violence, and immorality is the problem of a sinful human heart. Only Jesus. whose laws of love are written on our hearts because he lives in our hearts, can solve this problem Only acknowledging our human problem of a corrupt heart will lead us to the ultimate and true solution to our problems – Jesus – because his name still means “he will save people from their sins.”
So, this Christmas season I want to thank our government for doing the hard work of rooting out corruption through the means available to them. Please, continue to shine light in all the corners of darkness, not just the high profile ones. And, please, follow through on all cases.
But, we must never think this is the only hope available to us. There is always hope because Jesus was born and his name still means “he will save people from their sins.”
So, this Christmas, I want to encourage all of us to dedicate or rededicate our lives to Jesus. In the challenges of our Uganda today, which are no worse than the challenges of the world into which Jesus was born, Jesus is our only hope…because his name still means “he will save people from their sins.”
I send warm Christmas greetings to President Yoweri Museveni, Maama Janet and their entire family and all our government leaders. I also send sincere greetings, along with prayers for a blessed Christmas for the Kabaka and Nabagereka of Buganda, and for our Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal brethren, and all those who have looked in hope for the coming of the One who will save people from their sins, Jesus the Christ.
To God be the glory.
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP, CHURCH OF UGANDA.