My venerable brothers in the Priesthood, my dear Deacons and Seminarians, my beloved Religious Men and Women, and my treasured Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

We are once again blessed with the Advent Season. Indeed, it is a period of grace, a time of expectancy; an occasion of sharing and an opportunity of spiritual renewal (cf. A. Banda, Advent Message, 2008).

This period as it were brings to fulfilment the self-giving love of God to humanity and is a summons to reciprocate the gesture of love given and love received with one another. From such a backdrop, Advent becomes a time of hope to explore not only the divinity of God that has become human through the birth of Jesus Christ but also the love of God for humanity that has led Him to take up our human nature in the form of His Son (Philippians 2: 5 – 7).

The reality of the Incarnation (God becomes man – Immanuel) is an invitation to humanity that we may also take up His divinity in our lives after the example of Jesus Christ, our master and saviour. This invitation helps us to purify our hearts, our thoughts, and our intentions and inspires us to nobility and generosity to the benefit of all, in the same measure as our Lord; who came to us, for us and shared with us our humanity. The Advent season will therefore help us to appreciate more the love of God freely given in the gift of His Son to humanity and at the same time invites us to reciprocate that love of God with our neighbour and ourselves.

Our season of Advent also calls for a closer attention to the word of God, which gives us an ardent inner preparedness and a profound consciousness of the immanent coming of the Lord. Once we internalize His word, it becomes the foundation in the understanding of God’s love for humankind and the ultimate meaning of our human existence. We come to learn and to reflect upon all our experiences and encounters with the eyes of God.

Christmas is a hard reality; it is an answer to the world’s longing for peace, hope and meaning in our lives. We struggle to find meaning in life, to find a sense of self-worth that will give value to our personal existence. Many never find that precious treasure and in the emptiness of their meaningless lives, despair.

We struggle for most of our lives to find what will give us happiness and peace. At times we look for it in pleasure, power, money, material possessions, etc. The Son of God stripped Himself of His divine attributes to become a creature totally dependent on others for his sustenance and survival. He had nothing, yet he was perfectly happy, showing us by His own life that peace and fulfilment do not come from power, or material possessions but from the treasures within that God has given us. The treasure that we have within is the living presence of God and His Son who gives joy and peace and comfort to our hurting and hungry souls (cf. J. F. Girzone, The Shepherd, p.160).

We rejoice and are glad and grateful at the immanent coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and the peace that flows from His coming. With His incarnation, we are able to enjoy the intimacy with the Father as God’s children irrespective of status, colour, race, tribe, religion or political affiliation.

A time of waiting – a time of hope calls for pro-active resolution of actively and positively engagement in this waiting. In the face of individualism let us offer fraternity. Against a culture of consumerism let us talk about things that have value but not a price tag. Against a landscape of cynicism we dare to admire and respect. In the face of fragmenting families, we believe in consecrating relationships. Thereby we believe in marriage as a sacrament and parenthood as a responsibility (cf. Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, Address to Pope Benedict XVI).

In our communities let us value people not for what they earn or what they buy or how they vote but for what they are, every one made in the image and likeness of God (Gen.1:27). Let us also appreciate each other as the living presence of God created in love and to be loved. And when things do not work out amongst our selves, let us hasten to reconcile, to forgive and forget. Let us learn to actively and positively guard our values that are in danger of being lost: respect, tolerance, equality, championing for the cause of the disadvantaged, protection of life, etc.

We believe ourselves that Zambia is an abode of peace. However, this phenomenon is being challenged by the recent events in our beloved country. The value of peace or tolerance of divergent views seems to be slowly but surely corroding away. Dialogue is being replaced with violence. Civility is being replaced with insolence and respect by discourteousy.

As we wait and hope for a peaceful 2011 tripartite elections, I wish to urge each and every one of you to actively and positively engage yourselves in a peaceful election preparation. This entails preparation itself, the subsequent elections and post election period. This whole event begins with each and every one of you and now. This calls for Civic Education on all levels from the SCCs through to the Parish level the need to register to vote and above all to cast a vote on the material date. Apathy to elections is not a sign of patriotism. And to avoid suspicion of rigging the elections, it will be incumbent on all of you to be vigilant during and after the elections. As you prepare yourselves for elections prepare to vote for your preferred candidate and not necessarily those who give you handouts. May your vote give you peace in your heart and mind and achieve your desired result.

I wish you a prayerful Season of preparation for the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Our King of Peace and Hope. May I impart the Apostolic Blessing on all of you and all those with whom you share this Advent Message.

Given this in Ndola, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, on 21st November, the Solemnity of Christ the King, in the year of Our Lord, 2010

+Dr. Alick Banda

Bishop of Ndola