Church service in Pakistan (Credit: tribune.com.pk)[/caption]>LAHORE, Dec 25: For Christians around the world “tis the season to be jolly”, but several parishes in Pakistan decided to put out their Christmas candles this year and observe festivities in a solemn manner to express solidarity with the families who lost their children in a terror attack in Peshawar on Tuesday.
Archbishop Joseph Coutts has appealed to the Christian community to reflect on the message of hope and peace, which Christmas brings with it. Human rights activist and freelance journalist Peter Jacob told The Express Tribune that 11 parishes and several churches in the city had decided to cancel or postpone some programmes and events, mostly pageants and plays, to celebrate Christmas. “Most of them have been postponed… they will be held after January 1,” he said.
In Roman Catholic tradition, celebrations for the season usually commence on the first Sunday of Advent falling nearest to St Andrew’s feast. This year, celebrations began on November 30. The following three Sundays leading up to Christmas celebrated with prayers, candles, feasting and carolling.
Lahore Cathedral Dean Reverend Shahid P Mehraj expressed sorrow and concern for the grieving families and the lives that were lost. “This is an attack on the future of Pakistan,” he said from his office at the church.
In light of the events, Mehraj said they would hold special prayers for them on the fourth Sunday of Advent and would dedicate the candle-lighting ceremony to those who lost their lives in the attack. “Christmas brings hope to the world. The birth of Christ was also marked by a massacre of innocent children by King Herod… it is in the backdrop of this bloodshed that Jesus Christ was born as a symbol of hope,” he said.
Mehraj said this was a time to spread a message of love and brotherhood. “Christmas has come at the right time.”
Since Quaid-i-Azam was also born on Christmas Day, the rest of the country should reflect on his vision and dreams for the country, Mehraj said. “This year, Christmas will focus on a message of peace,” said Jacob. This year, Christians in Pakistan will remember and say prayers for not only the innocent lives lost in Peshawar but also Sajjad and Shama, killed in Kot Radha Kishen in November, he said.