The best introduction to this week’s message comes from Deacon Peter Espeut’s column in The Daily Gleaner. Remember these names, and weep, but not like those who have no hope, for Jamaica land we love, as you continue to read.
A friend once asked me how we are going to stop the killing of our children; a problem I would imagine is giving the PM sleepless night. And perhaps a few grey hairs!
But more poignantly, making those mothers who have suffered loss, ” hold on to their belly bottom “. And wail! A metaphor for what a nation, sickened by the kind of wickedness and unfettered evil which stalks our land, seemingly at will, is experiencing. Day after day! As ” bloodshed follows bloodshed “.
This morning as I woke, one of my favourite songs/Scripture passages came to mind. And so I sang :
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people. And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us, in the house of his servant David….
Words which emerged from the mouth and soul of the Father of John the Baptist, when he regained his voice, as prophesied, at the birth of his son.
Words which liturgical churches like mine, Anglican, have put to song – The Benedictus – and used during morning prayer worship service.
Then two other passages of Scripture came to mind. One, thanking God for awakening me:
” I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me”. Psalm 3:5.
One of several which I use for bedtime devotions, one per night, as the Spirit moves.
The other, an answer to my friend’s question. From the book of reminders, to which I have been led to read again, recently. And a verse which over the years has seared itself into my heart; one of many which are highlighted in my NIV Bible.
” Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children”. Deuteronomy 5:28.
Then I recalled, last night as I returned to Deuteronomy reading this very profound, and contextually, so very relevant, passage:
” Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God”.
One of, if not the greatest challenges that we face as Christians, in particular, and Jamaicans in general, is that like Sarah ( the one who laughed) ,
we do not truly believe, we don’t have to understand, for that’s a mystery, that our God is awesome.
We sing the songs. We say the words, but our actions, and lack of faith betray us. We turn away so easily from our Almighty God, and put our trust in self, systems, and mere man. And so our children are dying!
What’s to be done? A meditation from Peter Marshall, introduced to me by another dear friend, after my mentor and friend, Bishop Spence died, in fact his wife June, came to mind.
I offer it to our leaders in Church and State for our collective consideration. This as we grapple with the big issues of our time,
NIDS, whither SOE and ZOSO, corruption in high places, growing our economy, providing the best education for our students, domestic abuse, human rights, abortions, same sex marriage, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, how to respond to Trump, lapping up on public transport, how to deal with squatters….a permanent solution to a long standing national disgrace, closely aligned to poverty alleviation if not elimination, the highjacking of our culture to promote death and slackness, how to deal with political tribalism and its many children, including garrison communities, and prioritorising infrastructure development. And the killing of our children ! ( Can I add humbly, Road Traffic Injuries….and of course NCD’s).
The meditation was written for American leaders, at a time of great ( 1902 – 1949) concern in the history of mankind, but the words apply to almost every country under the sun. And could well be applied to the current American context.
FOR GOD’S GRACE IN OUR HELPLESSNESS
Peter Marshall – Former Chaplain to the United States Senate.
Verse: Judges 7:2
We know, our Father, that at this desperate hour in world ( Jamaican) affairs we need thee. We need thy strength, thy guidance, thy wisdom.
There are problems far greater than any wisdom of man can solve. What shall our leaders do in such an hour?
May thy wisdom and power come upon the President of these United States ( the Prime Minister of Jamaica), the Senators and Congress ( Members of Parliament and the Senate), to whom have been entrusted leadership.
May the responsibilities lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to thee. Give them the honesty, the courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they don’t know what to do. Only then can they lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom to thee, who alone hast the answer.
Lead us to this high adventure. Remind us that a ” mighty fortress is our God ” – not a hiding place where we can escape for an easy life but rather an arsenal of strength – the mightiest of all, who will march beside us into battle for righteousness and world brotherhood.
O our God, may we never recover from our feeling of helplessness and our need of thee! In the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, we pray. Amen.
A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
Then early Friday morning the Lord woke me up at 4: 00 am to write another message. To the Church! That not only should we confess that we cannot manage, and ask God for help, but that lukewarm Christians are of no use to Him. So we need to repent earnestly!
For as my friend and church brother, Deacon Peter Espeut wrote in the Gleaner this week, mindful of the trouble that had beset one of America’s spacecrafts, and the response of one the ground crew that became famous #Houstonwehaveaproblem,
” Jamaica! We have a Problem”. They are killing off our children!
And the message is that, only God and His children can turn this country around.