So the distractions continue. In the USA and Jamaica! Even as we continue to observe a Holy Lent, and look forward to #GoodFriday and a Blessed #Easter.
But first Champs; the greatest high-school athletic meet in the world. No! Champs is definitely not a distraction. Not after having produced Usain Bolt and #RealShellyAnn now a mother in the making ( bun in the oven).
But Trump’s attempt to introduce a new Health Bill certainly was one! Pure political theatre, as “Obamacare”, is on the minds of many experts, is a better, yet still imperfect deal. And so, he and House majority speaker Paul Ryan will have to, as they say on the streets in Jamaica, ‘ wheel and come again ‘. This, as even the usually staid and reserved Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader was dancing in the streets. Literally!
So was the attempt to get the Government in Jamaica to ‘ roll it back’. The tax package accompanying the new budget! It just wasn’t going to happen. Walk out, or no walk out, by the Opposition Party. Pure political theatre! As, flexing their political muscles, heralding the start of a new leadership, was the real ‘ end game’. Did it work to their advantage? Only time will tell. And in the interim, a few political commentators will speculate.
Meanwhile Rome continues to ‘ burn’. As just today, the wife of a well known businessman was brutally stabbed to death; and he is battling for life.
While further afield, the British PM, declared that, ” We are not afraid”. This defiant statement coming in the wake of the #WestministerAttack. And the claim by ISIL, that they, the terrorist group, … Fundament Islamic Terrorists #Saytheirnames, Trump’s preoccupation, and in a sense a distraction if left there……was responsible for the mayhem which left five dead. So far!
So how does the Church of the Living God insert itself into this narrative, as ‘Rome burns’, while the onlooking world gasps in horror, on the one hand, and yet moves on very quickly, to yet another distraction.
For in Jamaica, Carnival, for some, who ‘ come to wine’, beckons. Not #GoodFriday. As regardless of how much ‘ blood is on the streets, ‘ the show must go on’.
The question is, How does the body of Christ, the Crucified One, operate in this world of death and mayhem and immorality, without being accused, by God, not just man, of ‘ being too heavenly minded, that it is of no earthly use’!
For God did hear the cries of His people in Egypt. And came down from heaven to see ‘ what was going down’. And He, ultimately did descend into the ‘ demon possessed Valley’, and in Christ, God Incarnate, died on an old wooden Cross, so that sinful mankind, may not perish, die in their sins, but have access, if they chose, to everlasting life. Thus ‘ escaping the second death ‘. A doctrine, the reality of a second death, that needs serious discussion. But not today!
I would suggest that, in the first instance, a couple of messages that I was led to post on Facebook, this week might help. As we, as church, are called to insert ‘ Christ and Him Crucified ‘, into this narrative of death screaming at us on the ‘front pages’, across the world. And not ourselves, and our ‘ common sense solutions’, lest we be accused of being ‘ traitors to the Cross ‘!
For the battle against evil is not ours, but the Lord’s. And His ultimate weapon is His Love for mankind, and hate of sin. Made manifest completely in the Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of His Son, Christ The Crucified One.
They dress up the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.
Whenever human nature gets driven to end of things the Bible is the only Book and God the only being in the world.
THE PROBLEM OF FORGIVENESS;
HUMAN MORAL RESPONSIBILITY.
We are not automata, able to do nothing but react mechanically to our genes, our environment, or even God’s grace. We are personal beings created by God for Himself…..Moreover, what God has given us is not to be regarded as mere static endowment. Our character can be refined. Our behaviour can change. Our convictions can mature. Our gifts can be cultivated….we are indeed free to be different. Rev John Stott “The Cross of Christ “.
Comment: if you read carefully, words shared as I continued #ReadingagoodbookforLent, ” The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott, the thread of the importance of recognizing both the ” Gravity of Sin”, and the urgent need for personal, and yes, national Repentance and Redemption, becomes obvious. To the open and discerning mind!
Especially as we grapple daily with the consequence of ‘ dressing up the wounds of my people’. And labeling deviant behaviour, ‘ consequences of socialization ‘. Thus trying to avoid using, and accepting the only solution for, the ” S” word. SIN! Rebellion against God. As ultimately, as any ordinary in unschooled, but humble Jamaican will admit, ‘ only God alone can manage this’!
Finally, this week the Lord, in His wisdom, in a mysterious way, led me back over twenty years, by a telephone call. Whilst in Church! There was a break. The phone was on vibration. And the call persistent!
Back to a Grace Kennedy Foundation Lecture I was privileged to to deliver in 1995. The title: The Jamaican Society; Options for Renewal.
And so without any further comment, I share with you excerpts of the conclusion of the Lecture.
As I am led!
For having commenced writing last night, I had in mind to share another message. But I went to bed. Woke up with the Lecture in my mind, and then read this, randomly found, word from:
” I wonder if we have ever considered the Bible implications about sleep. It is not true to say that sleep is simply meant for physical recuperation; surely much less time would have served that purpose.
The Revised Version ( of…” It is vain for that ye rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of toil: for so He giveth unto His beloved sleep “. Psalm 127:3) suggests a deeper, profounder ministry for sleep than mere physical recuperation. ” For so He giveth unto His beloved in sleep”.
The deepest concerns of our souls, whether they be good or bad, are furthered during sleep. It is not merely a physical fact that you go to bed perplexed and wake clear-minded. God has been ministering to you during sleep….,
‘ Sleep is God’s celestial nurse who croons away our consciousness…..’
THE LECTURE – IN CONTEXT. TO RESPOND TO THIS CULTURE OF DEATH AND DISOBEDIENCE, TRIGGERED BY ‘ DRESSING UP THE WOUNDS OF MY PEOPLE ‘. VIZ, IGNORING SIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. BY INSERTING CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED INTO THE NARRATIVE.
Remember this was shared a whole generation ago, but still ‘ current’.
CONCLUSION – ABRIDGED VERSION
How will we engineer the shift in the attitude away from violence as the natural reaction and solution to our problems? How can we change in the way our men regard and treat our women, and their acceptance of the role of father? How can we counter the new material culture that encourages love of things and personal pleasure over love for and appreciation of our fellow human beings…..
The Process Must Begin and End in the Minds of Our People
The minds of those who are lacking in self-worth and self-esteem as a result of the historical process, their status in the society and the dehumanizing conditions in which they live must be transformed. Until this happens, they will be captives of doubt, and hopelessness, unable to fulfill their true potential and unleash their creative energies for the benefit of themselves and their country.
The minds of those who are held captive by the philosophy of materialism must be transformed. They see their salvation in the elevation of their status, more money, increasing possessions and power over others, the ability to indulge in whatever their appetites demand. Falling prey to selfishness, they use their talents only for the advancement of self rather than for the good of the country.
This group of individuals would do well to heed Plato’s comment that a community that exists only to gratify its appetite is no state at all but only a slightly exalted pigsty.
The minds of those who are held captive by the culture that elevates the importance of foreign imports, ideas and wisdom over the local products must be transformed and so must their preoccupation with securing money abroad, with sending children to school overseas, with foreign goods, culture, experts and financing to solve our problems and satisfy our needs. They are completely unaware that Jamaica has, within itself, the capacity and resources to satisfy most of our needs and to solve our problems. This mindset is a manifestation of the information and travel revolution which makes us part of the wider global village but presents serious challenges to regional viability and renewal.
The minds of those who believe that they have a God-given right to rule, because they have the power of class, gender or money to support them, must be transformed. Intolerant of advice or difference of opinion, they ignore the profound changes taking place in a society, which is unprepared to suffer any longer dictatorial, and authoritarian leadership….
The Process must be Manifest in a Different Kind of Management of Our Politics and Economy
The first possibility is a new political order. Again, the most noble ideals must be kept in sight. Not just the judicious use of power; not just the provision of scarce benefits; not just the proper management of the economy and the provision of social services, but rather the protection of the weak from the strong, and the practice of the art of the possible. Those should be the ideals of good government.
We need politics managed by people of the highest probity and humility, with the best technical skills, who can lead by example and change the relationship between those who govern and those are governed. The first order of priority is the charting of a developmental path that will create a level playing field, allowing those who have been living on the margins of society ever since Emancipation access to employment, credit, land and training. So they will be able to improve their standard of living and thus relieve many of the social tensions consequent on the present great divide between rich and poor.
Next, the critical issue of real democracy should address not just the morally bankrupt and uneconomically untenable political culture but also the decentralization of political power away from the corridors of Jamaica House and Gordon House to the central towns and villages of the parishes. We also need to develop a culture, which accepts differences in ideology, transitions, and defeats without recourse to violence…….
Finally, the Process Can Only Be Sustained by an Understanding of the Importance of Religion in National and Personal Development.
The history of humankind, as we have seen, has always focused on religion as human beings sought to find answers to the fundamental questions of who created us and what life is all about. This search continues even today among leaders and the ordinary citizens.
Within the context of this discussion, perhaps the most salient point to make at this juncture is that from Plato, used earlier in the discussion: ‘A finite point has no meaning unless it has an infinite reference point.’ Religion provides this infinite reference point in our society as it direct us to the dominant religion which has played such an important role in our history and in the development of personal relationships, the Christian Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal God to whom we pray every time we sing the National Anthem or recite the National Pledge.
This is the national and personal choice that we all have to make. What, in fact, is our infinite reference point that will bring about the sustained change in the nature of our relationships? In politics and economics, will we depend on the wisdom of our founding fathers, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante? Or will we choose the internationally acclaimed Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Hobbes, Plato or Socrates? In our search for social equality and pride, are the words of Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey to provide us with the ultimate reference point? Is our moral foundation going to rest on the wise words of the moral philosophers or our local outstanding churchmen and women? Are any of these blessed with everlasting life, supernatural wisdom, the power to create life, and so that they can constitute an infinite reference point?
The answer stares us clearly in the face. For the sanctity and dignity of life, the importance of justice, the concepts of freedom, love and righteousness to have an ultimate meaning, we must be true to our National Anthem and place our trust and hope in the Eternal God and his Son Jesus Christ who, like many of our heroes, sacrificed his life for us but who, unlike any other creature on earth, was resurrected and now lives to intercede on behalf of those who trust him and obey his commands.
Then, and only then, will we begin to understand ourselves, love our neighbours and, under God, make this country truly ‘Out of many, one people’, and one then can ‘advance the welfare of the whole human race’. In short, a country, which, under God, will be a shining example to the world of a viable and sustainable society.