”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…..”.
Famous words, from a famous man! The opening lines of a famous book, A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens, a long time ago, could easily apply to Jamaica, and indeed, the entire world.
Thus validating the words of another famous expression, ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’. The more things change the more they remain the same. A philosophy which another famous man, the late Jamaican and former Michael Manley, describe, in The Politics of Change’, if my memory serves my well, as coming from the ‘ pessimistic French people; this rebuttal emerging from his own sense of mission and determination to be an agent of change. Perhaps another famous former POTUS, BO,’ The Audacity of Hope ‘, had a similar sense of mission.
These thoughts came to mind as I reflected on the madness, the worst of times, which were on full display in my beloved nation yesterday.
In the morning, I felt a sense of shame and disgust. By evening, the nation was in shock. Again!
In the morning the headlines of both national newspaper carried the story and pictures which ‘ spoke a thousand words ‘, of ‘scammers’, including a mother and sons, being lead away by US agents. Extradicted! Eight of them. With a declaration by a senior embassy official, on a popular tall show programme hosted by #EmilyShields, of ‘ more to come’.
Including attorneys who were under investigation for assisting the scammers to ‘ rinse’ launder, their ill gotten and filthy lucre!
Men and women whose determination to ‘ milk’, con, scam, from unsuspecting and gullible elderly Americans, their hard earned money, had triggered death and mayhem and destruction in my country. And pain and grief in, and now the full wrath, of the ‘long arm’ of the Americans!
Then in the evening madness erupted on one of the busiest streets in our capital Kingston. A corridor which I traverse regularly. At the end, a policeman lay dead. Shot several times by a would be robber. And who in turn was shot and killed by a soldier who was ‘ passing by’. At the right time!
All of this taking place on a day when our high school female athletes, fresh from their exploits at the now Internationally famous ‘Champs ‘, were ‘ burning up the track’, at the famous Penn Relays in the US. With their male counterparts threatening, based on the results of the heats, to do the same today.
All of this happening as a nation celebrated, this achievement, which I first heard about on another talk show programme on radio hosted by #djmiller, as reported in the Daily Gleaner a few days ago:
“Jamaica’s image on the international stage received a boost recently, as a team of students from the Norman Manley Law School recently placed second at the prestigious Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition, which was held in Washington, DC, United States.
Representing the institution were Jhade Lindsay, Victor Brown, Anna-Kay Brown, Scott Mullings and Kalisia Miller. They were coached by attorney-at-law Marc Ramsay.
The quintet also copped a number of other awards, including a second-place finish in the championship, third overall for written memorials, and first place in the applicant side, written memorials.
Mullings was ranked the second-best speaker in the world, with Miller ranked fifth.
“It is a fantastic achievement, not purely for Norman Manley Law School, but for education in Jamaica,” said Ramsay, in his third year as coach.
This is the ninth year that Jamaican law students have entered the prestigious mock court competition. Their next highest finish was a semi-final appearance in 2011.
FORCE AT MOOTING
“We have been a force at mooting for some time now and again we proved our status as one of the best. These young people worked tirelessly to reach this stage, and I am extremely proud of them,” Ramsay told The Gleaner.
In terms of international law moot courts, the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court has the widest global coverage, with 640 law schools from 95 countries .
But as wretched as these people who have sullied the good name of my country, and the same story can be ‘ trumpeted’ in America, in many different ‘ barracks ‘, over many years, the transcendental reality, if we listen to both the exploits of man and The Word of God, is that ‘ frightenly’, and to us very soberingly, they are not alone.
They are not an isolated case. A mere blip on the moral pages of life.
No. Absolutely not. For in the eyes of a Holy God, despite the fact that aspects of the image of God, in which we were all make still reside in us, that image has been badly marred by sin. And so we are all wretched. And in a blink of an eye, if we are not careful, can commit the most heinous of crimes.
Fall into what one writer aptly called ‘ the banality of evil ‘!
And so I was inspired to write on Facebook this week. In this order. For me the precience, in some cases, perhaps in all, if we look deeper, is always amazing. Praise God.
If you only listen to the news of the day, you will become not only confused and distressed, but wonder if there is any hope. Gunmen launch an attack on a police station in Clarendon; Huge gun and ammunition find in a barrel in St. James; Shottas recruited directly from schools; a woman beaten in her home and left for dead. Murder! Abuse! Cries of corruption! Injustice! A litany of woes.
But then in my #earlymorningdevotions the Lord speaks:
First, ” On the road to Emmaus”………while they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself came near and and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him……….when He was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened” . Luke 24:13-35. The Gospel reading in my church for next Sunday.
And this song which my Rector used in his sermon yesterday, came flooding into my mind. The first verse.
And reminded me that there are two narratives being played in the world today. We must listen to one, to learn how to serve, and pray. And listen to the other, to learn how to humble one’s self, and be obedient. To the Risen Christ!
And then He, Himself, will come alongside us, and grant us Shalom. The Peace that passeth all human understanding. And open our eyes, to see Him. In the midst of the confusion! Even in the midst of flood waters (of varying kinds) that threaten our very existence. And the noise of Carnival that would prevent us hearing and seeing Him in His Glory.
I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
A message for the brokenhearted.
It didn’t start with this psalm. But that’s where my ‘ song in the night ended’.
” He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The Lord determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Psalm 147 :3-4.
And then on the next page of my Devotional Bible:
BROKEN HEARTS AND NUMBERED STARS
J. Stuart Holden ( 1874-1934….a gifted Anglican preacher in London who gave leadership to the Keswick movement)
Verse: Psalm 147:3
“He healeth the broken in heart……He telleth the number of stars” (KJV). What a surprising conjunction is found in this twin attribute of God – active pity in the small circles of human experience and unmeasurable power in the great realms of creation.
Here is God manifesting Himself in both the remotest and the nearest things of which we may have knowledge – the universal and the personal.
Comment: Defend the God who you know through the shed Blood of Jesus The Crucified One. A God who is full of mercy and compassion, and yet a God who has the power to ‘ raise the dead’, and grant us peace in the midst of the storm.
Let us announce to a dying world, by word and by deed, in good times and in times of suffering, in season and out of season, that we serve a Risen Lord.
And that He alone can rescue this brokenhearted country of ours. From gunmen, abusers and sickness. From extreme poverty, from disobedient children, the ravages of floods and hurricanes. From intoxicated men with guns, from the excesses of Carnival and Dancehall. And from painful memories #SnowBoy #WildGilbert #TivoliIncursion #PoliticalTribalism
From injustice – of two Jamaicas. From corruption in high places. And from church people trying to escape from living under the cross of Christ.
Jesus, keep me near the Cross,
there a precious fountain,
free to all, a healing stream,
flows from Calvary’s mountai.
In the cross, in the cross,
be my glory ever;
‘Til my ruptured soul shall find,
rest beyond the river.
Which is how my ‘ song in the night ‘ started.
In obedience. Peace!
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness – The Word of God
We should keep up in our hearts a constant sense of our own weakness……..to drive us out of ourselves in search of divine assistance – Hannah More
Divine intervention will only come to a nation through divine intervention in the lives of individuals.
No! We do not have the all answers to our problems, despite what you hear in the Parliament and on the talk show programmes. Nor what #Alkaline – and Damion Crawford claim – that he has the formula.
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!
Let us as inviduals, come to our senses, and realize that ” we can’t even walk without Him holding our hands” and cry out to God for help. In this land of Violence and Crime, Injustice and Unrighteouesness!
Rev. Timothy Keller ” The Reason For God : Belief in an Age of Skepticism answering questions.
Questions: Each religion sees part of spiritual truth but none can see the whole truth.
Answer……..How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?
My comment: Having, for many, many years worked ( and witnessed ) in an inner city, I have met very few women who absolutely do not wish to be Baptised one day. Just today, one who has no desire to get married, admitted, when challenged, that she had intentions of getting baptised one day; and agreed that boyfriend and Christianity could not mix. The story, however, with men and my middle class friends, is quite different. Some think about these things. But for others it is of little moment; or they have adopted an entirely different set of beliefs. I wonder why! Are men and middle class folks wiser than working class women. Or just more skeptical about the Word of God.
One word perfectly captures the status of this very ‘ sorry’ group of Jamaicans ( and more to come) whose activities have triggered so much mayhem locally, and pain and grief abroad. Wretched!
The challenge, in this context, for most people, in this age where we have access to almost instant news, aided by advanced technology, is to accept and to sing, with conviction, the words of one of the most famous, and well loved, by believers and unbelievers alike, Christian hymns:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me……
A working class man, who had spent too much time with Goggle rather than listen to his grandmother, recently asked me, ‘ how could I, a scientist, believe in God.’?
Then this morning in my #earlymorningdevotions I opened my Devotional Bible and found a meditation by one of the world’s greatest scientists. Blaise Pascal!
1623-1662…..one of the great minds in western intellectual history, and eminent mathematician and physicist who at the same time was one of the greatest mystical writers in Christian literature.
By the age of 12 Pascal had worked out the equivalent of many of Euclid’s geometrical theorems. At 19 he invented the first practical calculating machine. Later he verified the theory of atmospheric pressure and formulated the mathematical theory of probability, a fundamental element of modern theoretical physics. And who penned this reflection. Which has been such a blessing to me. Hopefully you will find comfort for your souls in it also.
JESUS CHRIST – THE MIDDLE WAY
Verse: Psalm 51: 1 Have mercy on me, O God…..blot out my transgressions
The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements……Nor is he merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortunes of men, to crown his worshipers with length of happy years. Such was the portions of the Jews.
But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and consolation, a God who fills the souls and hearts of his own, a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness and his infinite mercy, who unites himself to their inmost spirit, filling it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, rendering them incapable of any other end other than himself ( I’ll share with you soon what I read on this issue; from Oswald Chambers last night).
………The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness creates pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.
And the Psalmist, David, a wretched man who had done so much wrong, and yet so much good, made this appeal. And revelation at the same time!
‘ …..A broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise ‘
But only one who has felt this wretchedness can honestly cry out to God like that. O God that more and more of us would feel this inward wretchedness. Because that is the Gospel Truth which led to our rescue by the Blood of the Lamb. Christ The Crucified One.
And so the story on the front page of the Gleaner yesterday is also our story writ large. Before a Holy God. Wretched! But thank God for Jesus.
Facebook Five …yesterday also
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment John 16:8 NIV. #earlymorningdevotions