Trouble in New York City, trials in Tivoli in Jamaica and Peace only in Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.

Lord renew thy church, beginning with me; Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation(s)

THE NEWS

1. The cruel and entirely unnecessary death of Eric Garner which spawned hash tags sponsored stories, #EricGarner #ICan’tBreathe #BlackLivesMatter # ChokeHold dominated the press in the USA and in social media in particular in Jamaica, and no doubt across the world. Why? Because apparently Black Lives do not matter to many Police Officers in the USA. And the recent decision by the Grand Jury to absolve one of New York’s ‘finest’, of any criminal responsibility for what the autopsy report describes as a homicide, and for the death of Eric Gaynor, the video footage of which went viral, has triggered one of the largest nationwide protests in the USA in recent times. Everyone is asking, especial after, in recent times # Michael Brown in Ferguson,and many others, what’s up with racial violence in the USA, and in particular the police force. And why is the Justice system seemed to be condoning such actions. A matter which must be terribly embarrassing for the nation’s first black President Barack Obama.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2014/dec/04/i-cant-breathe-eric-garner-chokehold-death-video

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/eric-garner-chokehold-death-a-grand-jury-blind-to-the-evidence-before-it-9908352.html

The question may very be posed of whether, among developed countries, the situation in the USA is similar to other countries. And the answer is a resounding ‘No’. Have a look at the data in the link below.

Over 400 per year in the USA compared to one in the UKOn average, at least one person is killed by a cop every day in the U.S. In contrast, not a single one was killed in Britain last year, where police fired their guns a grand total of three times, according to The Economist. In 2011, when the FBI reported 404 justifiable law enforcement homicides in the U.S., police killed six people in Australia, two in England,

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/01/opinion/ghitis-police-shootings/

2.[PDF]
TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY 1 …
jis.gov.jm/media/TOR-for-West-Kingston-COE-2014.pdf
(d) the conduct of operations by the security forces of Jamaica in Tivoli Gardens and related areas during the said State of Emergency in the month of May 2010;.

#TivoliEnquiry #WitnessesNotCredible #LawyersHarassingWitnessesWhoWishToTellTheirStory #DaguilarKickedOutOfTheCommission ……..

dominated the news in Jamaica this week. But the establishment of the Commission itself opens up the nation to many challenges. Recall that the event under review took place in May 2010. One of the most traumatic, emotionally and physically, period in the nation’s recent history. The background was the extradition request sent by the US government for what they described as a major International Criminal dealing in drugs. The person in question, Christopher ” Dudus ” Coke, was the reputed ‘area leader’ for Tivoli Gardens, the political stronghold of the sitting member of Parliament, who was also the Prime Minister of Jamaica. Members of community, mostly women and children, led a march in the capital city protesting the extradition of Mr. Coke, and pledging their ‘undying’ allegiance to him. Even to the point of, based on one placard, comparing Mr. Coke to Jesus. So too did the Prime Minister, based on what he assumed, and perhaps still continues to hold that view, was good legal ground. The upshot of all of this was that, after dramatic debates in the parliament and in the society, after much violence around the community, and no doubt unrelenting pressure from the USa, eventually the PM capitulated to their demand for Coke’s extradition, and members of the security forces were sent in to a barricaded and reportedly fiercely defended by armed gunmen, to capture Mr. Coke.

The PM subsequently resigned. In the process of the Tivoli Incursion, a great tragedy ensued, as when the dust had cleared, over 70 Jamaicans lay dead, and Mr. Coke had escaped. He was later captured, and flown to the USA where he is now serving a long jail sentence. And in the wake of all of this a part of the Jamaican family suffered immensely. But not them alone! Yes, they alone bore the brunt of whatever unlawful acts were committed by the security forces, and which breech of human rights constitutes one of the terms of reference of the Commission. But the country has suffered much from the activities of Mr. Coke; and whose ‘reign’ in Tivoli Gardens had the public, and perhaps indeed to some extent the private, support of the community.
For this man was was no ordinary criminal. His influence, reportedly extended way beyond the narrow confines of Tivoli Gardens, and many Jamaicans, if the truth be told, are convinced that this ‘ President’, as head of a major drug ring, was a significant reason, at least in recent times, for a lot of the violent crimes committed in our country.

And therefore the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when he left for prison elsewhere.
That is the context in which an enquiry is being carried out in respect of the deaths of part of the Jamaican family in Tivoli. Hopefully the truth will emerge, healing will take place, justice will carried out and measures will be put in place that will prevent the ‘ capturing’ of any other community, by anyone else or group of persons.

Yes, the PM of Jamaica answered questions on the still very topical Outameni NHT issue, and the Daily Gleaner posted a very useful Editorial on the matter :

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20141207/cleisure/cleisure1.html

and the USA’s brave but failed attempt to rescue two persons held hostage by the terrorist group Al qaeda in Yemen caught my attention. But the main news, from my perspective was all about Eric #ChokeHold Garner. And America, not just Black America, were in a rage. So too the news about the Tivoli enquiry, as the witnesses complained about being harassed, and are enraged that they who suffered are not being allowed to tell their story.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word, or inspired word did the Lord sent in the midst of this madness in the USA, and memories of madness in Kingston Jamaica. Again this week I wrote mostly on WhatsApp. And the first message was about a hymn, the words of which in the USA; black and white, police and citizens, Democrats and Republicans, angry black men and a black President, all need to reflect on the message of God’s love and mercy, in this time of rage, of grief, and of bewilderment. So too the people of Tivoli Gardens and the wider Jamaican family. For when the protesters are all gone home, when the media leaves to cover another more exciting story, when the high rhetoric of concerned persons has all gone silent, when the Commission of Enquiry is all over, the family of Eric Garner will have to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. So too, the families of those who suffered loss, and bereavement in Tivoli, and the wider Jamaican family who suffered because of Mr. Coke. And only God can help them to do that. As many who have suffered in the same way across the world can attest. From injustice and gross wickedness!

THE MESSAGE
A HYMN FOR HOLY COMMUNION WHICH CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
For in His Broken Body and Poured out Blood, we have forgiveness of sins. In Him alone we find Peace for our weary souls. And in regular participation in This Holy Sacrament we, ‘ see him face to face’. Finally we are reminded that we have no help but Him, and His Grace and Power are sufficient. Join with me in prayer as my church celebrates 350 years of Christian witness today.

THE HYMN
Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face;
here faith would touch and handle things unseen;
here grasp with firmer hand the eternal grace,
and all my weariness upon thee lean.
Here would I feed upon the bread of God;
here drink with thee the royal wine of heaven;
here would I lay aside each earthly load;
here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.
I have no other help but thine: nor do I need
another arm save thine to lean upon:
it is enough, my Lord, enough indeed,
my strength is in thy might, thy might alone.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – speaks to one of the greatest comforts that God, who created heaven and earth, the sea and everything in it, has to offer a troubled soul, or a troubled nation. That His grace is sufficient for our every need and trial in life. No matter how challenging the circumstances are! For in the midst of the apparent weakness and trials of His embattled children, His mighty strength is waiting to be unleashed. A fact that we can all attest to in Jesus’ death and suffering on the Cross of Calvary in the the mighty Act of Atonement ; the forgiveness of the Sins of the entire world. For who knows what great pursuit of Justice, for all Americans, and not just for Black America, may result from the horrific death of Eric Garner, and the Tivoli gardens incursion.
And it is not just a Word for ‘huge issues’, but for everyday happenings, when the trials of life just seem insurmountable and we wonder what to do, viz, the light bill, school fees, the mortgage, the ‘out of order’ child, the ‘ unfaithful ‘ husband, the many health issues…and so much more. But be assured that God’s grace and mercy, are always sufficient for the day. And he bids us not to worry about tomorrow.

THE MESSAGE

HYMN

WORDS TO BEGIN THE DAY

1. Master, speak! Thy servant heareth,
waiting for thy gracious word,
longing for the voice that cheereth;
Master, let it now be heard,
I am listening, Lord, for thee;
what has thou to say to me……
THE WORD WHICH THE LORD SPOKE TO ME AND TOLD ME TO SEND TO YOU.
….” My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness….. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor. 12:9-10.NIV

Rev. Peter Marshall – former chaplain to the US Senate (1902-1949) God is sufficient for all our needs, for every problem, and for every broken heart, and for all human sorrow.

THE THIRD MESSAGE

One of, if not the key thing, that a child of God, or any aspiring Christian needs to practice, is to have the presence of God always with him or her. There is no greater discipline, and hence tremendous reward – having the Creator of Earth and Heaven with you at every step of the way – than this. For this practice will lead to great joy and peace in the midst of all trials and tribulations that will inevitably come our way in this life. A point made by Chris Tiegreen in a wonderful meditation that I was led to read on awakening this morning – perhaps part of the reason for the delay in sending out this weekly ministry

A CERTAIN PEACE

VS: John 14:27…” Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’

We live in an unsettling world. There is no such thing as security here. Thieves break in, accidents happen, illness strikes, terror assaults (In Yemen, on the streets in New York and in Tivoli Gardens), and death comes to all – no one is immune. No human institution can guarantee our safety. The locks on our doors, the airbags in our cars, the medicines on our shelves – they may help us, but they do not come with promises. We walk on shaky ground.
On the night before he was betrayed, Jesus reminds His disciples of this certain truth. Even He, the Son of God, will experience the uncompromising danger of a fallen world.. But He leaves them with a promise: peace. They may breathe a sigh of relief. There is a sure foundation for security, not in this place, but in the One who transcends it. They need never be troubled if they rest secure in Him.

Comment: the reality is that even though the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when Coke was extradited, trouble in the form of gun related violence still plagued the nation, and continues to do so. Despite the fact that hopefully we are on track to have one of the lowest rates of homicide in many years. And the reality is that long after the justice system is fixed in America, both Black and Whites and Hispanics and others wil experience trouble of various forms. As according to Alexander MacLaren:

” Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.

THE MESSAGE

THE WORD OF GOD Luke 24:13-35 ( recommend that you read the entire passage and not just the verses used below)

” Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked with them, but they were kept from recognizing them, but they were kept from recognizing him…..
He said to them, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory. And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself….
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?

COMMENT

If you talk about Jesus, when you wake up, and when you lie down, if you trust in Him, He will walk with you, even if you don’t see Him…..we walk by faith and not by sight….and He will reveal Himself through The Holy Scriptures: and more so whenever by faith, we receive The Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion. Even in the midst, and perhaps, more so, of your pain and confusion and tribulations.
Song: words that came into my heart as I write…Reach out and touch the Lord as He passes by…He is passing by this moment…Praise God.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE

… is a message from a prayer to the God who rules over us, who alone can forgive our sins, and who alone in Christ Jesus can renew our souls.

WALKING WITH JESUS
JACOB BOEHME
VERSE 24:15

AT EVENING

I thank you O God, for your care and protection this day, keeping me from physical harm and spiritual corruption. I now place the work of the day into your hands, trusting that you will redeem my errors and turn my achievements to your glory. And I now ask you to work within me, trusting that you will use the hours of rest to create in me a new heart and a new soul. Let my mind, which through the day has been directed to my work, through the evening be wholly directed at you.

Finally, a revelation! Not from the Bible, but from some persons ” bible”. The New York Times! And in the form of a vey penetrating article written by OP ED writer David Brooks. An evaluation of one aspect of Capitalism – the dominant economic philosophy of our age – and the spiritual pitfalls. I suspect if one looks deep into this article, from such an unlikely place, just maybe we can find an answer, in part only, to the madness played on the streets of New York City and in Tivoli Gardens. I tweeted and sent this article by e-mail to some leaders in my country.

In 1976, Daniel Bell published a book called “The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.” Bell argued that capitalism undermines itself because it nurtures a population of ever more self-gratifying consumers. These people may start out as industrious, but they soon get addicted to affluence, spending, credit and pleasure and stop being the sort of hard workers capitalism requires.

Bell was right that there’s a contradiction at the heart of capitalism, but he got its nature slightly wrong. Affluent, consumerist capitalists still work hard. Just look around.

The real contradiction of capitalism is that it arouses enormous ambition, but it doesn’t help you define where you should focus it. It doesn’t define an end to which you should devote your life. It nurtures the illusion that career and economic success can lead to fulfillment, which is the central illusion of our time.

David Brooks
Politics, culture and the social sciences.
Why Elders SmileDEC 4
Class Prejudice ResurgentDEC 1
The Unifying LeaderNOV 24
Love and GravityNOV 20
Obama in WinterNOV 17
See More »

Capitalism on its own breeds people who are vaguely aware that they are not living the spiritually richest life, who are ill-equipped to know how they might do so, who don’t have the time to do so, and who, when they go off to find fulfillment, end up devoting themselves to scattershot causes and light religions.

To survive, capitalism needs to be embedded in a moral culture that sits in tension with it, and provides a scale of values based on moral and not monetary grounds. Capitalism, though, is voracious. The personal ambition it arouses is always threatening to blot out the counterculture it requires.

Modern China is an extreme example of this phenomenon, as eloquently described by Evan Osnos in his book, “Age of Ambition,” which just won the National Book Award for nonfiction.

As Osnos describes it, the capitalist reforms of Deng Xiaoping raised the ambition levels of an entire society. A people that had been raised under Mao to be a “rustless screw in the revolutionary machine” had the chance, in the course of one generation, to achieve rags-to-riches wealth. This led, Osnos writes, to a hunger for new sensations, a ravenous desire to make new fortunes.

Peace.

LWJ

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