December is turning out to be full of activity, though we are hoping to get out of Cotonou to the beach for a couple of days over the holidays. Last week Nancy finished a 7 days seminar on Systematic Theology at IBB. It was the December class for the part-time program. This group has just 5 more seminars left to finish their three years of study and will graduate in June.
Last Saturday Antoine Codjo, IBB teacher, led a day-long seminar on Christmas for the 150 part-time program participants. Here in Benin there are different opinions in the church community about how, or even if, to celebrate Christmas. When Antoine asked the students representing churches that celebrate Christmas to identify themselves, about 1/2 to 2/3 of the participants stood. There is a significant number of churches that believe it is wrong to celebrate Christmas because of its pagan roots. The fear is that by celebrating on December 25 the churches are indirectly participating in pagan worship. Antoine did not take sides in the argument but encouraged those who do recognize Christmas to focus on the true meaning of the holiday.
I’m currently preparing a course on the history of the Church in West Africa to be taught at IBB in February. I’ve taught a similar course twice but this time there will more more of a focus on Benin. The roots of Christianity here stretch way back to the 17th century when European traders were active along the coast and brought with them chaplains to minister to them and later to the indigenous peoples.
We wish everyone a very merry Christmas as we celebrate the miracle of God dwelling among us.