The Christmas season in India is marked by cold winter mornings and a glowing Christmas star in the few Christian households. But for the largely pagan society of India, the good news of Christmas brings a flickering light of hope.
By mid-December, much of the Indian subcontinent is engulfed in early morning winter fog. So much so that many trains and flights to major cities are frequently cancelled or delayed.
Being a country that’s predominantly pantheistic, the build up to Christmas is unnoticed yet not absent. A fair bit of advertisement about Christmas comes from the special seasonal sales put up by clothing retailers. With New Year’s Day arriving soon after, it is customary for people to buy new clothes at this time of year.
The celebration of Christmas makes headlines on the 25th of December, with most Catholic and Orthodox churches holding midnight mass.
For the few believers in India, the season presents an opportunity to share the gospel with their neighbors and friends.
The society is largely open to conversations involving faith and religion, in spite of the recent persecution against minorities from Hindu religious extremists. People are coming to faith in large numbers in all parts of the country.
But the Gospel also demands that the most urgent humanitarian needs of the poor be met. Many in India suffer without food and shelter.
The Christian moral landscape can provide the basis for a society free from the rampant corruption that is prevalent in every strata of society in India. Justice is often denied and many are without the protection of law enforcement.
The Christian worldview can also influence the rule of law, bringing about a much needed reformation of various legal aspects including issues like private land rights.
Also, the use of natural resources under the Judeo-Christian worldview stands in stark contrast to that of pantheism. Although the impact of pantheism appears negligible, it can and probably will be a roadblock to the optimal utilization of natural resources in the future.
This Christmas will be a dark one for the poor in India. But the glorious light of hope will reach India’s darkest gutters, most importantly through the gospel of Jesus Christ, but hopefully also through economic development for the poor.