Scripture readings, poetic recitations, musical performances and humorous parodies were featured in the high-spirited Christmas dinner held for Hostel residents in Canterbury Hall on Wednesday, 21 December 2011.
All Hostel residents were present alongside chief guest Bp. Humphrey Peters of the Diocese of Peshawar, who chairs the College Executive Committee and is Vice Chair of the Board of Governors. Vice Principals Naseem Haider and Kalim Ullah headed the faculty delegation, which also included Chief Proctor Attaulah Jan and a number of other members. Principal Titus Presler and his wife Jane attended via videoconference from the USA.
Arranging the annual dinner were Senior Hostel Warden Prof. Naveed Ali, Degree Warden Prof. Taj Masih, 2nd-Year Warden Prof. Changez Khan, and Asst. Warden Prof. Noor Jamal. Refreshments were served during the various presentations that preceded dinner in the hall, which was festooned with a Christmas tree and balloons.
“It is great to see smiles on the faces of students during this terrible time of terrorism in Pakistan, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said Bp. Peters in his remarks. Noting that Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, he said Jesus’ message was one of joy, peace and love. He observed that the four candles on the celebratory cake marked the four Sundays of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas.
“Christmas is not a time or season but a state of mind,” said Master of Ceremonies Miaz Asar, a 4th-year student. “Christmas calls for love in action,” he said, continuing, “Every time we give for the sake of others we are celebrating Christmas. He who does not have Christmas in his heart will not find Christmas in a tree.”
The event opened with a reading of Luke 2:1-20, the passage in the New Testament that recounts the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem and the coming of shepherds to the stable where the holy family was staying. This was followed by a reading of Sura 19:16-34 from the Quran, which recounts a messenger announcing to Maryam that she would bear a son and then the birth itself.
Entertainment offerings during the evening included an English song and poem by Miaz; two Urdu songs by students of the Student Christian Movement chapter; a Chitrali song by Javed Iqbal and three others, using instruments from Chitral; and parodies of the wardens by Ahmad Zia and Iftiqar.
Especially lively was the crossfire free-association game in which faculty and students had to respond within five seconds with something they associated with a word or phrase barked by the MC. Two touching moments: When VP Naseem was given the word “principalship,” he responded immediately with “hardship.” When VP Kalim was given the phrase “Edwardes College,” he responded immediately with “my life.”
Speaking to the group via videoconference from home in Vermont in the USA, Canon Titus thanked all involved in arranging the event, especially the wardens. Reflecting on the evening’s readings from the Bible and the Quran, he noted that both narratives about Jesus’ birth stressed that God was interested enough in humanity to intervene in history. “We learn that God is not distant, but close; not detached, but engaged,” he said. “God is passionate about restoring humanity to reconciled relationship with God.”
The Principal said that while he has been meeting frequently via videoconference with the Mangagement Team during his leave, this was the first time that he had been able to meet in this way with students and other faculty. He reminded the Hostelites of the five points he stressed at the Prefects Dinner as particular opportunities in Hostel life: friendship, collaboration, worship, kindness and athletics. “Hostel is a privilege, so make the most of it,” he concluded as he wished all at the College a blessed holiday season.