|L : The 25 ft neon light Christmas tree. Top right : Leonie , the MC and Bottom right : Fr Thomas Makajil|
Sandakan : The 3-day annual Member of Parliament for Sandakan Christmas Celebration 14th - 16th De cember 2011, was officially launched last night, 14th December 2011 by Datuk Ir James Wong, the President of the Sandakan Municipal Council at the MPS Square.
The theme 'Jesus, the Star of Great Joy' remains the same following last year and according to the MC for the night, Leonnie Degallucion of the Catholic Cathedral, is most appropriate as in Hebrew 13 : 8, 'Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.' He is unchangeable.
The square was brightly, beautifully and colorfully lit. The backdrop and its decoration together with the 25 foot high neon light Christmas tree created a warm setting, befitting a grand Christmas celebration. The Catholic Cathedral was assigned the task as the anchor Church for the night's carol presentations. The event started with an Opening Prayer led by Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector of St Mary's Cathedral.
The 3-day event is the joint effort of the MP's Office and the Municipal Council in cooperation with the 14 member churches of the Sandakan Inter Church, with Charles Pang as the organizing chairman.
Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sandakan in his opening address, highlighted the Bible text about peace taken from John 14 : 27 as the fundamental inheritance that holds all mankind together. He called upon each and every believer to share the Lord's love and blessings in promoting peace within every strata of society.
He urged all Christians to continuously pray that those in authority practice genuine justice and love in resolving sensitive and thorny issues for the Lord loves righteousness and justice. Nurturing such values will pave the way for all to co-exist harmoniously and peacefully in our beloved country, Malaysia.
He urged all Christians to use every opportunity during the festive season to reach out to those in need, the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized with a humble and loving heart. He quoted from Matthew 25 : 35, ' Whatever you did unto one of the least brethren of mine, you did it to me.'
Datuk Ir James Wong in his launching speech extended his appreciation to YB Datuk VK Liew the MP for Sandakan for his initiation to host the annual Christmas celebration. He thanked all member churches of the Sandakan Inter Church for their cooperation and commitment.
He said, 'Such an event bears testimony that there is unity in diversity. It is also a testimony that tolerance among the various races and religious beliefs not only exists but flourishes here in Malaysia.'
He went on to say that in many parts of the world, there exist conflicts and wars.The people in Malaysia are much blessed because we can come together to celebrate each other's celebrations, creating much space for interaction among one another. This is our strength for we can live harmoniously and peacefully in a multi -racial and multi-religious country. He called on the people to maintain that 'peace' not only during Christmas but at all time and at all cost.
The Bahasa Malaysia Choir of St Mary's Cathedral led by Saundry Ekok presented a medley of four carols, 'Malam Kudus', God rest you merry Gentlemen, 'Mozou hozou Oh Malaikat' and 'Do you know what I hear.'
'What is Christmas all about?' is a sketch and liturgical dance performed by the youth and teenagers of St Mary's Cathedral. It is a call to conversion especially those who are lost in the world to return to Christ.
Another action song by the little children from the Baptist Church.
The youth from the Calvary Charismatic Centre presented three songs, 'Joy to the World' - bringing joy, peace, hope and light to all people. It is a song saying somebody cares.
Their next presentation 'Mari Puji Dia' - praising, thanking and worshiping God by drawing closer to Him.
Closing the event is a Timorese song entitled 'Tuhan Kasihanilah' sang by the Indonesian Catholic community from St Mark's Catholic Church.
The event drew a crowd of more than 1,500 people from all member churches and the public. Also in attendance were Charles Pang, the Organizing Chairman, Datuk John Lim, Chairman of the Sandakan Tourism Board, pastors and representatives from SIC member churches.