A birthday serenade and tons of love

Christmas is the feast of love. Believers do not only celebrate this feast for themselves, but also want to spread the spirit of Christmas. And this they did with music and toys. Not even hygiene protocols could keep them from passing on Christmas cheer.

Happy birthday in honour of Jesus

District Apostle Tshitshi Tshisekedi celebrated the Christmas Day service in a congregation in the district of Lubumbashi-South (DR Congo South-East). The members gathered in tents. Nearly 300 children welcomed the District Apostle with songs already before the divine service. Spontaneously, the District Apostle decided that the children should sit in the front rows, sending the adults who were sitting there to the back. The District Apostle did not tell the Christmas story himself, but let the children tell it by asking them questions as he guided them through it. Then a girl from Sunday School did the Bible reading from Luke 2: 1–14. After the service everyone sang “Happy Birthday” together in honour of Jesus and the members in the congregation who were celebrating their birthday that day. At the end, the District Apostle treated all the children to some juice and cookies.

The many other congregations in the Regional Church DR Congo South-East also celebrated Christmas. Many of the members spent the whole day in the church, eating together and spending time together. Activities had been organised for the children and the young people, ranging from plays and singing to poetry recitals. The atmosphere was festive and even exuberant.

Christmas concerts in the summer

Christmas without music is not the same and something that the Church members in South America cannot imagine. On this continent, where Christmas falls in the summer, singing is just making its comeback in the congregations. For this reason, the sisters and brothers dared to perform two live, in-person concerts and the orchestra gave a virtual concert for the five countries that make up the District Apostle Area, namely Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

The virtual concert took place on the fourth Sunday of Advent and was streamed live on YouTube. In his opening address, District Apostle Helper Carlos Granja wished the sisters and brothers peace and joy despite the ongoing restrictions. A presenter guided the listeners through the concert and provided some background information on some of the choral and instrumental pieces.

The choir from São Paulo gave a concert in our Santo André church on 12 December and the choir from Barrinha gave a concert in its congregation on 18 December. Both concerts were streamed live for the congregations in Brazil. The choir and orchestra thrilled their audiences, which was all the more amazing because they did not even have one in-person rehearsal.

A live and streamed concert

Christmas without music was something that the people in Indonesia could not imagine either. For this reason, a Christmas concert was performed in the congregation Ringinharjo on 26 December, which took place under strict health protocols. It was also streamed live on YouTube. The members were overjoyed because the pandemic and public health restrictions was making it difficult to gather even during the Christmas season. However, the brothers and sisters were eager to celebrate Christmas together, says Keefe Setiobudi, our correspondent from South-East Asia.

District Apostle Edy Isnugroho opened the concert with a prayer and a short speech. He said that God did not need this concert, in which the choir praised and glorified His name, but that His children did. Then the choir and instrumental ensembles from the district Yogyakarta West performed. Some of the songs were performed live, others were shown as video clips. Afterwards, Apostle Samuel Hadiwidagdo said a closing prayer.

Spreading Christmas cheer

Like every year, members from the congregation Morenci, Michigan (USA) visited a home for the elderly and disabled in the city after the service on the fourth Sunday of Advent to sing some carols and hand out some gifts. Since many of the residents have no family, they always look forward to the visit by the members of the New Apostolic Church and the music and gifts they bring along. This past Christmas, the group was unable to actually spend time with the residents of the home because of the pandemic, but they quickly found a solution: they sang under the open windows, while the residents hummed along in their rooms.

The members from the congregation in Pudget Sound, Washington, also reached out during the festive season. They gathered for their annual Christmas celebration on the fourth Sunday of Advent. It began with some music performed by the members. The programme reflected the ethnic diversity of the congregation. A sister from Sri Lanka, a duo from Samoa, and a brother from the Congo each sang a song in their mother-tongue. This was followed by several readings and then the members watched a film together.

The day marked the conclusion of a campaign to collect toys for the Toys for Tots programme. The congregation had collected a whopping 300 kilos of toys. Afterwards, the choir visited a nearby nursing home to sing some carols for the residents.