From Pastor Kenny's Desk
December 31, 2017
First Sunday of Christmas
& Kwanzaa Celebration
This Sunday, December 31, is the First Sunday after Christmas and MCC Richmond’s Kwanzaa celebration. Kwanzaa is a beautiful way for congregations to honor and celebrate unity and diversity. It is a rich and noble celebration whose purpose is to renew and reaffirm our commitment to positive values. The word Kwanzaa means “first” referring to “the first fruits of the harvest” festival which occurred throughout Africa since the early days of Nubia and Kemet, Egypt. These first fruits festivals continue today in Africa.
In 1966, after years of research of these festivals and other African practices, Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, California and executive director of the Institute of Pan-African Studies, initiated an African American holiday based on these practices. Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1 of each year and is based on Seven Principles. This time of the year was selected because it corresponds with the seven day harvest celebration by the Zulu nation. However, the principles of Kwanzaa are relevant throughout the year.
Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa because he believed that two basic groups of African people exist. The first group, Continental Africans, refers to Africans living on the continent of Africa. The second group is the African Diaspora, referring to Africans living away from the continent.
He observed that many Africans in the second group were stripped of their language, values, principles, cultural and spiritual practices when taken from Africa. It was Dr. Karenga’s belief and that of many black scholars that reawakening to the positive African core values, practices and history would serve to raise self-esteem, self-worth in the collective consciousness of the African Diaspora.
These black scholars understood that positive changes had to come from within. Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa to help stimulate self-determination in African and African American people. This is the second principle of Kwanzaa and is achieved by an individual and/or group speaking, defining and creating for themselves. This principle requires African Americans to assume leadership and responsibility for changing their present state, creating a brighter future and reclaiming the best of what has come before.
According to Dr. Karenga, the practices and principles of Kwanzaa were designed to bring people of African descent to a point where they can once again “self-consciously contribute to the forward flow of human history.” The spiritual essence that permeates the Kwanzaa ceremony and celebration is ancient and has proven time and time again to positively impact people of all ages, race, ethnic and socio-economic groups. Kwanzaa offers us an effective means of honoring diversity.
Although Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, it is a deeply spiritual celebration offering a rich array of ritual and ceremony that creates a bond for all. Kwanzaa may be celebrated by all people, regardless of race, gender, gender and sexual identity, age or ethnic background.
Bring a friend to church as we embrace and worship the God born among us, pray, sing, fellowship and join in celebration of the richness of cultural diversity … and more!