Melkam Gena

5 Jan

It is not literal, but it is what everyone here in Ethiopia says to one another instead of Merry Christmas. It happens on Monday. You may have thought Christmas was over for another year and put the decorations back in the attic, found places to display the new stuff, and removed the irritating noise makers from the children’s new toys. Oh, maybe you even changed out the Christmas music CDs. Adios, Rudolph. And, just maybe, you have already broken the New Year Resolutions from last week…especially the ones on calorie intake. Now it’s time to figure out what to do with all the cookies and other goodies still holding you prisoner from the frig and freezer.

If you were here, you would still have one more weekend to resolve this yearly ritual. Gena, in Ethiopia, is in many ways easier than Christmas in America. It is still a family time and a bigger than usual meal. There is little emphasis on gift exchange and decorations; more thought is given to God’s gift. There is a day off from school and work. The only places you hear “Gena” music is in places catering to western materialistic culture. A simple marketing tool. Christmas or Gena for the Muslim population has the equivalent meaning that Martin Luther King’s birthday has for those of us who recognize the spiritual significance of Jesus Christ.

Whether a person is residing in Ethiopia or the USA, and whether it is Melkam Gena or Merry Christmas, one of the key ingredients we should not put back in the attic when the season is over is hope. The infant grew into a man, the manger morphed into a cross, and the Heavenly Place that heralded the Coming to Earth also heralded the Victory over Death. As He left the Glorious Habitation so He returned. And as He left God’s created place for Adam’s race in a cloud so He will also return. Even so…hope endures throughout the Season of Man, not just for the Season of Gena. Let us all be about sharing that hope with hearts. Melkam Gena throughout the year.

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