Christians in Sri Lanka are preparing to celebrate Christmas. For many, it will be the first Christmas observance since losing a loved one in the Easter attacks that took place in the capital of Sri Lanka earlier this year. Police have instructed churches to ramp up security as they prepare for the Christmas holiday. Despite the fact that some are still healing from injuries sustained during the attacks, Christians are determined to return to church, even if the celebration will be bittersweet.
“It’s a sad memory as they attend worship this year especially at churches where there were so many dead and injured,” Godfrey Yogarajah, Deputy Secretary General of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance Sri Lanka, told ADF International. Still, Yogarajah believes “Psychosocial support is needed” for these families.
Gathering with other believers can certainly provide that support.
Still, celebrations this year may be subdued. The Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, has asked church members to avoid “lavish and immoderate” celebrations out of respect for those who lost loved ones or who were injured in the Easter attacks. He also encouraged members to visit those affected by the attacks.
In addition to his directive to Sri Lankan Catholics, Ranjith also called on authorities to take greater precautions in protecting the churches. In April, the government’s competency was called into question after it was discovered intelligence officers received warning of the attacks. At the time, Ranjith said, “We placed our hands on our heads when we came to know that these deaths could have been avoided.”
This Christmas, the Sri Lankan government has pledged to deploy more personnel to guard churches.