And he will be called … Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and
peace there will be no end. He will reign … with justice and righteousness
Thank God for Christmas! It is always a time of great rejoicing and refreshment, a
time of celebration and renewal. The Christian’s prayer is that this Jesus Christ will be at the center of the feast, and it will not end at mere human enjoyment. Every
successful birth of a child brings great joy after a time of anxiety and expectation; but for baby John, the events around Zechariah astounded everyone, and they asked “What then is this child going to be?” (Luke 1:66) This question would be even more proper for baby Jesus – the circumstances were more provoking. The answers would consume countless volumes of books… but let us visit just one name that Isaiah called him – Prince of Peace. The name depicts the child as a ruler in the making, and one of unique excellence.
Governments of different kinds exist today and have existed in many places among
different peoples; they are praised and criticized, hated and loved, ushered in and
ousted, built and destroyed; they benefit some and oppress others – governments
come and go. The great prophets Isaiah, Hosea and Micah exercised their ministries
in the days of kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Jotham’s character is represented in a moderately favorable light; the wisdom and vigor of his administration, and of his policy for the defense of the country, are recognized. It was owing to his completion of his father’s plans for the protection of Jerusalem, and of the building of country fortresses, that Hezekiah, a few years afterward, was able to show so stout a resistance to the attacking King Sennacherib of Assyria. But within the state itself corruption and oppression were rife. In the pages of the prophets we have graphic picture of the moral condition of the time.
But it was to King Ahaz that the most comforting words of the prophet were directed. As he faced threats from stronger neighbouring kingdoms, chief of whom was Syria, Ahaz sought favourable alliances to fortify his stand; these are the common warfare and power tactics common in our own days. But the prophet points these rulers to God Almighty who
demands both justice and righteousness – good rule and good morals. The demands are backed up by the promise of a coming Prince of Peace whose government will be
the expression of these virtues. As Uganda prepares for elections early next year, five years are gone, and another five are ahead – questions linger, and comments are made; other
nations elsewhere do the same for their governments. May this Christmas brings a
loud reminder that the Prince of Peace is here, and his government will be of perfect peace and justice, and the better news is that it will be an everlasting one. Merry Christmas!
God bless you all.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: (Matt 1:23-24)
You are warmly welcome to Kakumba Chapel!
On this last Sunday in Advent season, let us recall the meaning of this season: Waiting in expectation for the Coming of the Saviour. A miniature simile would be that of relatives in the village waiting for their Uncle from Kampala to come for Christmas; of course they know he will come with physical blessings and they can get relief from some of their year-old challenges. No wonder shopping is at its peak, roads are jammed up and bus fares have sky-rocketed because of such movements. Visitations are the norm of this
season, and real blessings from such visitations are rightly expected.
The name Immanuel speaks of the divine visitation – God with us; not in the sense of his omnipresent nature by His Spirit, but physically dwelling among us in the way Jesus was born in Bethlehem, lived in Nazareth, walked all over Palestine preaching, and was
crucified in Jerusalem. This reminds me of the times God seemingly visited Moses and they conversed; in His omnipresent nature He was with the Israelites and everywhere, but there were sit-down sessions with Moses for closer fellowship and instructions. One day Moses invited the elders to one such meeting; when they heard God’s footsteps, it was too much for them and they decided to tell Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Exod 20:19). They did not like the visit! God
descended in fire and His footsteps were heard as thunder and lightning and His voice was like the loudest trumpet and He was surrounded with thick smoke – even the mountain trembled violently!
Scandals of protocol are not uncommon; titles get mixed up (especially Bishops’ titles), and it can be embarrassing for the dignitary who messes up the protocol at an official function. When the Lord Jesus Christ came as Immanuel, thank God he did not tear apart mountains and ride on fiery chariots. He came as a humble child. While that did not make him less of ‘God with us’, some people could not comprehend a King with no fanfare, and they ended up messing up the protocol; they did not recognize and give him due worship. The Lord calls us to receive our King and enthrone Him in our hearts. Let us follow the obedience example of Joseph: he listened from God and ‘did as the angel of the
Lord commanded him’.
God bless you.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin
will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which
means “God with us”) (Matt 1:22-23)
Today’s challenge is about long-term plans. I am fascinated by large and old things –talk of companies – someone must have had a real big long-term plan: Toyota Motor Corporation is a Japanese automotive manufacturer; in March 2014 the multinational corporation
consisted of over 330,000 employees worldwide; in July 2012, the company reported
the production of its 200-millionth vehicle. Toyota is the world’s first
automobile manufacturer to produce more than 10 million vehicles per year. How can one company hold together in stability all over the world while a small country like Somalia or Southern Sudan wallows in social and political turbulence for decades?
But think also about long-lasting (almost everlasting) companies: The oldest running hotel in operation is not in Paris or London or Rome. It is in Yamanashi, Japan: a hotspring hotel called Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan, which has existed for over 1300 years – since the year 705. Japan is home to the world’s oldest lots of things, with more than 3000 companies over 200 years old. Ostensibly, it’s not surprising that an old country with an old economy would be home to so many old businesses. Many of the oldest companies are local and family-owned. This longevity must be engrained in a big long-term plan.
Is there any institution more enduring or universal than a family business? Professor William O’Hara posed that rhetorical question in his recent book, Centuries of Success. He also provided his answer: “Before the multinational corporation,
there was family business. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was family business.
Before the enlightenment of Greece and the empire of Rome, there was family business.” In a world where family values are fast being compromised at the altar of
personal gratification, we are in danger of losing the benefits of long-term plans that ride on the back of an enduring family line.
There are deep spiritual inspirations from all these large and old business fascinations. Matthew in his first chapter brings us generations of God’s long-term plan that is evident in Abraham, David and fulfilled in Jesus many centuries later. The Salvation Plan of God was prophesied by prophets across a wide time-line including Isaiah over 600 years before he is quoted by Matthew. God’s Salvation Plan endures to date, and as we celebrate the coming of our Redeemer, King, Jesus Christ, we also look forward to His return, and that plan will be fully materialize. Watch and pray, and always stand ready.
God bless you all.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he
hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
The Word of this Advent season is, ‘Behold He comes!’ It is also a season of preparing for leadership transitions as a nation and in the Church. It is a great responsibility to be in leadership because you are holding authority that comes from God. For those who have offered themselves as candidates for elective posts, we pray that it will be a season nursing the very burden God has for His people – the very reason He seeks to establish and uphold a kingdom ‘with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever’. Our
congregation will also hold an Annual General Meeting early next year, and leaders will be chosen to form a Chapel Council – some of us must consider to answer affirmatively if God calls us to this task; let us all pray for this process.
Today we also celebrate Bible Sunday. “I am a scribe, as were my forefathers. For
four thousand years, we have been assigned the duty of preserving these Holy
Scriptures; the histories of our people, and of the world. It is in these scripts that
we still hear the voice of God, and his unfolding plan to save the fallen world; a
world that He created with perfect beauty; for His glory. There in the Garden of
Eden, the divine relationship between God and man was broken, and to this day, all
creation is accursed.” – These were words of one man in the Christmas play, yet
they are not just an act, but reality. John introduces Jesus Christ as the Word who
was in the beginning with God, and this augments the value we must place on the
Word of God.
The Holy Scriptures bring us a story from Genesis to Revelation – a story of God’s
plan to save humankind, a story of good news. In every generation there have
been stewards of these mysteries in form of Church leaders, Bible expositors, apologetics, and many ‘smaller’ leaders of Bible studies and those who go back to check the Scriptures to find out if what they heard was right. We all have a duty to love and treasure God’s Word, as well as be responsible stewards of the same. Supporting the work of Bible Society is part of this stewardship – that the Bible may reach many of our own folks. There are
answers in the Word of God; it is knowledge and understanding and wisdom. It is life. It is a treasure to which Jesus’ parable is applicable; sell everything else, sell all other
philosophies and ‘buy’ the Word and place Him above all.
God bless you all.
“At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great
glory. … stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing
near.” (Luke 21:27-28)
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord! It is Advent Sunday today – we remember the times of waiting for the Messiah (the first Advent): Simeon was waiting, Anna was waiting, the oppressed Jews were waiting, John the Baptist announced and was also waiting, and Jesus Christ appeared – the Messiah. And we look forward to His return in glory (the
second Advent); are you waiting? All signs are showing that your redemption is drawing near indeed. The coming of Jesus Christ was also boldly announced using many pictures, and one of them is Boaz, who was a kinsman redeemer and a bridegroom.
Boaz exhibits exceptionally good qualities that make him stand out as a shadow of
the great Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He was purpose driven – he followed up the matter of Ruth with such commitment, and would not rest until it was resolved.
In the fourth chapter of the book of Ruth, Boaz organized the meeting with the guardian redeemer and the relevant elders to finish a matter that would fix for Ruth a destiny and a happy future. He was selfless; he was not like the man who avoided endangering his own estate; for Boaz, even if it jeopardized him, he still went ahead and gave himself to the duty of redeeming Ruth.
The selfish man’s legacy is not known; we neither nor his name nor his offspring –
his selfish nature was more dangerous to his estate than marrying Ruth. As for Boaz, the substitute redeemer, we know his name and his offspring down to the great king David, and down to Jesus Christ the great Redeemer. The other man tried to save his life and lost it, while Boaz gave up his life and estate and gained so much more. Boaz’s exceptionally good qualities attracted blessings from elders at the end of the meeting, as well as blessings from the women who came to visit the family when they had a son, and indeed Boaz was blessed, and his son became very famous. These blessings were really from God above.
Jesus Christ gave himself much more; he not only humbled himself and came to
earth, born of a woman, but he also gave up his life in a cruel death on the cross. He also gave us signs to watch, which we now see and must ‘stand up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near.’ Are you waiting? He is our
Redeemer and the Bridegroom coming to take his Church to the place of eternal joy
and peace. Hallelujah!
God bless you all