It is time again, when people all over the world will celebrate Christmas and the dawn of another new year. For those of us in Sri Lanka, this season in 2005 also marks the commemoration of the Asian Tsunami which swept across our Island coastline one year ago.
The destruction and anguish caused to our nation by 20 years of man made conflict pales in comparison to the unimaginable blow that nature dealt us on the morning of the 26th of December 2004. The Tsunami waves took the lives of over 40,000 people; sweeping over ethnic, social and religious divides erected by society with the same indiscriminate force that swept away concrete mansions and mud huts.
In the aftermath of this national tragedy, we saw an unprecedented humanitarian effort, at every level of society, both nationally and internationally. Despite the massive reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of the past year, there are still men, women and children who are languishing in temporary shelters or in the homes of others, with no home to call their own. There are thousands who are still numbed by the shock and grief of losing loved ones, their home, possessions or the experience of living though the horror of that day. For these, this will not be a season of celebration.
We call upon all Sri Lankans, particularly the Christian community to devote this season to living out the real message of Christmas rather than in festivities. Let us remember that Jesus Christ who came to this world to bring a message of salvation, love and peace was born in the stable of a stranger. He too experienced loss and grief during His life on earth, betrayed and abandoned by those He loved.
Let us make this season a time of remembrance and quiet reflection, identifying with those who grieve, standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters; for as it says in the Holy Scriptures “if one suffers, we all suffer”.
21st December 2005