Photo Credit: HKSKH / Echo
A Christmas Message from Archbishop Paul Kwong, Primate of Hong Kong, Bishop of Hong Kong Island, and Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Greetings to my fellow-citizens of Hong Kong,
As we approach a Christmas we cannot observe in any traditional way, we are at the same time saying farewell to this frightening year of 2020.
We have been dealt a severe blow by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is raging around the world. However, I’m afraid the worst is yet to come because in the past few weeks, a new wave of the pandemic is hitting Hong Kong and neighbouring regions, and the situation is getting worse by the day. In Britain, doctors have discovered a new mutant form of the virus which is more infectious. The number of daily infections in Hong Kong has reached new heights in recent days and those who are stricken are getting younger.
The pandemic has halted the economy, and has destroyed people’s livelihoods and damaged their physical and mental health. Research has revealed that the pandemic has filled people’s dreams with messages of death, depression, and fear.
The pandemic has changed our daily habits and our relationships, stirring up a strong sense of powerlessness and helplessness. The lyrics of one Covid-19 prevention children’s song describe our suffering: “due to Covid-19, we cannot do many things. We cannot sit with our friends, we cannot play at the playground, we cannot have PE lesson, we cannot hug our friends, we cannot play with toys together, we cannot play games together, we cannot hold our friends’ hands, we cannot share our food. Our teachers told us to wash hands. We have to keep social distance, we cannot go to our friends’ seats. We miss the old times.”
Another trauma the pandemic brings is loneliness. Many elderly people are forced to stay home so that they will not get infected, and since elderly homes have closed their doors to visitors, residents feel the isolation and helplessness most acutely, causing great harm to their physical and mental health. I have heard that there was a taciturn man in an elderly home who seldom reacted to the outside world being brought to tears by the voice of his wife, whom he had not seen in ages.
Christmas will not be celebrated in the same way this year. Some people even joke that Santa Claus will not be coming and even if he does come, he will not be able to deliver presents on time because he has to self-quarantine for fourteen days in every place.
Although the pandemic has spoiled our mood and celebratory activities, the true meaning of Christmas brings us positive energy and hope. It inspires us to work together to fight the pandemic and wait patiently for dawn to come. On Christmas, we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, our savior. His arrival changed the course of the world and enriched people’s lives. In his presence, nobody would think themselves a burden to society; he cares for people’s sufferings in mind and body, and his love has the power of healing. His life was lived for the sake of the people.
At Christmas, not only can we receive the love, joy and peace brought by the coming of Jesus Christ, we can, at the same time, be inspired to emulate him and care for those in need. In the face of this grave situation, we especially need to embody the spirit of Christmas and fight the pandemic together, attend to people with fragile hearts, and support those who are feeling sad or dispirited. By helping one another, I hope that we can free our hearts from depression and drive away the fears and doubts caused by the pandemic. We also need to support and encourage healthcare workers who are toiling under immense stress and all the government workers who commit themselves to their roles untiringly.
To triumph over the pandemic, we need to carry on in a spirit of cooperation and work together to maintain discipline. We also need to prompt the government to take decisive action. Aside from this, a city-wide vaccination programme is also a vital. I hope that the government will make a thorough plan to vaccinate all citizens efficiently because this is a key battle in the war against COVID-19. Failure is not an option. I hope that we can be free of the torment of the pandemic so that economic activities could resume and people’s health and lives could be protected.
A beautiful prayer reads “during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around one another, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.”
May Christmas fill Hong Kong with joy and peace and drive away the darkness of the pandemic, allowing the dawn of new life to return.
Lastly, I wish all citizens of Hong Kong a healthy and peaceful Christmas.
+ Paul Kwong