The government has been advised to harness all the necessary resources available to enable it reverse the current economic downturn facing the country.
Members of the clergy, who gave the advice as part of their Christmas message to Ghanaians, also asked the government to introduce social-intervention programmes to bring relief to ordinary Ghanaians who continue to struggle to make ends meet.
They include Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Most Rev. Dr Paul Kwabena Boafo, Presiding Bishop, Methodist Church Ghana; Rt Rev. Dr Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, the Anglican Bishop of Accra and Rt Rev. Prosper Samuel Dzomeku, Moderator of the Global Evangelical Church.
In separate interviews with the Ghanaian Times in Accra, they prayed to God to bless the country in the coming year and help the citizenry to act responsibly to further the country’s development.
Most Rev. Gyamfi said Christmas was a time to recall God’s ineffable love and to renew our resolve to love as He has loved us (cf. John 15:12).
“In this season in particular, we express love by sharing our goods with others especially those in need. We, therefore, take this opportunity to urge all to share with others, most especially the needy,” he added.
He urged churches and families to revive the traditional Ghanaian culture of sharing and further enhance it with the spiritual significance of Christmas and then foster same among their members.
Most Rev. Gyamfi, who is also the Archbishop of Sunyani, expressed worry over the high spate of road accidents or carnage on our roads, adding that peace was disrupted in the family, corporate, community and sometimes in national life when road accidents occur.
He appealed to all road users to observe the rules and regulations to ensure safety and avoid the temptation of drink-driving and driving under stress.
Most Rev. Gyamfi called on the police and other enforcement agencies to ensure that all road users comply with the road rules and regulations.
He called on the public to desist from politics which divides the country and rather foster all that contributes to strengthening the bond of unity among all citizens.
“Similarly, the clergy should relate to their church members not on the basis of their divine calling, but on the basis of their common membership received through Baptism,” he added.
He said elected or appointed state officials should relate to other Ghanaians not based on their high executive, legislative or judicial office, but because of their common citizenship.
On his part, Rev. Boafo called on government to double efforts in stemming the tide of economic hardship in the country.
“People must see hope in the policies of the government; there must be positive engagement with the people, seeking to appreciate and addressing their concerns. In like manner, there must be cooperation on the part of all interest groups in building consensus towards the development of Ghana,” he added.
He said Christmas was the time to reflect on the passing year and the providence of God in the face of all that had gone on in the country as well as expressing gratitude to God for the gift of life and for the grace of surviving the challenges that have arisen in the year under review.
“The mere fact of being alive to witness yet another Christmas and the hope of a New Year is a great gift from God that should never be taken for granted, particularly, in our present realities. Having come thus far, Ghanaians must remain thankful,” he added.
He said the passing year has been a challenging one for the world with various threats and challenges, citing high inflation, soaring prices of goods and services as some examples.
“There is general despair and despondency in the average home. Nevertheless, in the face of all these, we have every reason to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and hear the goodness of the angels that brought hope, love, and peace at the first Christmas,” he added.
He urged Christians to emulate the act of giving during this yuletide, particularly caring for the poor and the underprivileged, as Jesus Christ exhibited throughout his life and ministry.
Quoting from John 3:16, he said “For God so loved the world that He gave, so it is an act, it is a celebration of giving.”
Most Rev. Dr Boafo added “We can also give, sometimes we give to people who can give back, that is not what God did. God gave to people who were so vulnerable and that we learn from Him.
“And as you cast your eyes around, there are some who can’t even eat square meals and are amongst us in the society. Let us get in touch with such people so that they can also see the essence of the celebration.”
Most Rev. Boafo said the message at Christmas, Peace on Earth, was the assurance of the restoration of peace and harmony.
“At the birth of the Christ, the angels proclaimed that God’s peace had come to the earth to break down all barriers of conflict and hostility which has become part of the life of humankind (Luke 2:14). We must therefore pray for peace, let peace rule our lives, seek peace, and pursue it and do our best to live at peace with others,” he added.
Also, Rt Rev. Torto urged Christians to bear in mind the true meaning of Jesus Christ’s life on earth, thus born to reconcile man to God and demonstrate the love of God with all their hearts, minds and souls.
He said the core principles of Christianity thus charity, faith, love, humility, forbearance, forgiveness, reconciliation and hope, should guide Christians in the festive season and beyond.
“We should not be afraid of the times we find ourselves in; “For behold I proclaim to you the news of great joy. For today in the city of David, a Saviour has been born for you, who is Messiah and Lord.” Luke 20: 10 – 11,” he added.
He called on Christians to desist from unholy acts which dominate the celebration of Christmas and rather show the world how it must be celebrated in accordance to doctrines of Christianity by attending church services, giving gifts to the needy, visiting the needy and the underprivileged in communities.
Rt Rev Torto said the world was still at a difficult place where matters of war, floods, civil unrest corruption, suffering, sickness, COVID-19, poverty, oppression and persecution lingers.
He said Conference of Party (COP27) held in November had highlighted the need for world leaders to come together and combat climate injustice.
Delivering his message, Rt Rev. Dzomeku noted the importance of Christmas saying “it is a period dedicated to sober reflections and gratitude to God for giving His Son to us.”
He said Christmas brings good tidings which required that all Christians shared the good news about the birth of the world’s Saviour with all and sundry.
“Everybody ought to know that, unlike His first coming when he came as a Saviour. He would come as an impartial judge when he appears the Second time,” he added.
He appealed to individuals, especially those who were yet to come into the saving knowledge of Jesus to prepare their hearts to receive Him as their Lord and personal Saviour.
“Beyond that, like the Magi who visited Jesus with gifts of Gold, and of Incense and of Myrrh as recorded in Mathew 2:11, let us remember to share not only the gospel but also our possessions with all, especially, the disadvantaged,’’ he added.
He urged the public to exercise the highest form of responsibility in all that they do during the holiday period.
Rt Rev. Dzomeku, appealed to drivers to avoid speeding and ensure that they do not drive under the influence of fatigue or alcohol.
To revellers, he called on them to do so responsively so that the country does not record any casualties during the holidays.
He noted that, although 2022 had been a very challenging one for the nation and even as individuals due to current economic crises, Ghanaians should be hopeful that the impending year would be better with good tidings in every sphere of our national lives.
“It is our expectation that we as individual Ghanaians, would consciously and intentionally live holy lives in the year 2023 and beyond. By doing so, we trust God that, our holy lifestyles would erode the current high levels of corruption and nip galamsey as well as other social vices in the bud,” Rt Rev. Dzomeku added.
BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI