SUNDAY CAMERA: DECEMBER 2016 PATRONAL FESTVAL

SERVICE

Great service, with lots of expected high church activities…procession…sprinkling with Holy Water as we renewed our vows on the ‘birthday ‘ of the church…..great hymns, especially ” Such Love”…351 during Holy Communion.

Also 355, the closing hymn, ‘we’ve a story to tell to the nations’, and one of Father Sirano’s,  and many others including yours truly, favourite hymns, ” Thou dids’t leave thy throne and thy kingly crown…..
SEMON

Ret. Church Army Sister Norma Thmpson, shared a powerful message from Andrew’s journey with John the Baptist and then Christ. The key question that Jesus posed to him, and  which throughout the long history of the Church, has become our question also ” What are you looking for”, was the title of her sermon.

And so Sister Norma reminded us that our Patron Saint, St. Andrew ( an evangelist, a disciple of Christ and eventually a martyr), followed Christ, remained with Him, and then told others about him.  In that journey, Andrew responded to Jesus’ question, asking Him where was He going? And Jesus encouraged him, by saying ‘ Come and see’. And so Andrew, inviting his brother Simon Peter, went and remained the entire day with Jesus; thus starting a life changing experience.

In this context then, Sister reminded us, that Christainity is all about building a relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus. For Jesus came not to form a denomination,  but to establish a relationship with the lost and the lonely and the repentant, so that the Kningdom of God might be established. Further we need to  remove anything in our lives which may prevent us from spending time with Jesus…and here with an almost altar call fervor, Sister Norma invited us to ponder deeply on this issue, as too many people allow thing so this world, no matter how important they might be, to prevent us from committing oursleves fully to Christ.

Also Sister invited us not just establish a relationship with Jesus, but to spend quality time with Him, learning. To be like Him and listening to Him. She gets up at four am each morning and ‘religiously’ spends an hour or hour and a half with the Lord. Finally, there is no point in spending time with Jesus, warming the benches and expecting the church to look after you when you die, unless to become people of action – transformed by our relationship with Jesus. Spreading the Gospel, in word and in deed….especially in deed.
So Advent is a time of expectancy. Not a time to consider how to commit  ‘economic suicide’ for a whole month. Not a time to get depressed about our station in life. But rather to celebrate the  first coming of Jesus as Savior, and to look forward to the second coming , as Judge of all men.

Peace

LWJ

DC

SC

#X6murdertrial, Donald Trump and the Christian Response 

Five years ago, in my country,  and that fact tells another story, a teenager was shot and killed during an act of road rage. This week,  the accused man was set free, as the only other person in the car in which the young man died, claimed he ‘ saw nothing’. And the entire country is up in arms about this miscarriage of justice in the #x6murdertrial.

Further north, the Donald Trump phenomenon provoked a question from one of my patients yesterday, and which mystery is baffling many; ‘ How did he get  so far ( in the race for the Presidency)’. How did a man who is so bigoted, bombastic and a sexual predator come so close to even being considered worthy of being elected leader of the free world!
Then yesterday we heard of two other murders. Both by being stabbed to death. One a schoolboy on a bus going home, reportedly on account of his  refusing to hand over a cell phone. The other, young doctor, found in a pool of blood at his home.
So what reaction ought Christians have in the face of this continued madness across the world?
In a book written by a famous theologian and avowed Anglican Evangelical, the late Rev. John Stott, Decisive Facing Christians Today: your influence is vital in today’s troubled world, Stott calls for Christian leadership. And not just hand wringing and a promise to pray! A commitment which may be sincere but which if not attended by action may justify us being accused of insensitivity , by the writer of a poem quoted by Stott.
Poem by a homeless woman whose Pastor promised to pray for her. A lesson for all of us who claim Christ 
I was hungry, and  you formed a humanities group  to discuss my hunger.

I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.

I was naked, and in your mind your debated the morality of my appearance.

I was sick, and you knelt and thanked God for your health.

I was homeless  and you preached to me of  the spiritual shelter of the love of Christ.

I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.

You seem so, holy, so close to God,but I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.
Stott closes this fascinating book from which I quoted liberally in the section on Mission in my Lecture,  by detailing his understanding of Leadership in general, and Christian Leadership in particular. 
FIVE MAIN INGREDIENTS 

1. CLEAR VISION 

2. HARD WORK 

3.DOGGED PERSEVERANCE 

4.HUMBLE SERVICE 

5. IRON DISCIPLINE 
Them he calls for the Church to repent of two ‘particular horrid sins’.

 

1. Pessimism …which is dishonoring to God and incompatible with the Christian faith…… While we are aware of the fallenless and depravity of human beings….we are not so foolish to believe that society will become perfect before Christ comes, and aware of the pervasiveness of evil…..Nonetheless we also believe in the power of God- in the power of God’s gospel to change individuals and in the power of God’s people ( working like salt and light) to change society…..need to renounce both  naive optimism and cynical pessimism and replace them with the sober but confident realism of the Bible. 
2. Mediocrity…and the acceptance of it….don’t settle for anything less than your God given potential! Be ambitious and adventurous for God……God made you a unique person and gifted you….God has a leadership role of some degree and kind for all of us….need to seek his will with all our hearts…cry out your Him to give us a vision of what He is calling us to do…..
And it cannot be by coincidence that during the preparation for the Lecture I was led to read this famous Isaiah passage.
” Enlarge the place of your tent

stretch your tent curtain wide,

do not hold back;

lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.” Isaiah 54: 2-3.
And that a line from the  OT reading for my Church this :
Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision;  Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.

Hb 2:2‭-‬3 NABRE

http://bible.com/463/hab.2.2-3.NABRE
Peace

Waiting on #HurricaneMatthew and Praying

GM: PRAYER, HURRICANE MATTHEW AND GOD’S PLANS FOR US IN CHRIST JESUS 

Last night, perhaps in response to conversation with some of my non believing and even atheist friends, I posted this on my Facebook page.

As long as we are not at the last place, not facing our problems at all, but simply pleased to be in existence, pleased to be healthy and happy, we will never find God, we so not see any need for Him – Oswald Chambers.

One of the main things that, so far, has emerged out of our preliminary experience with #HurricaneMatthew, is that a lot of people have praying for mercy. On Twitter, on Facebook, on Radio, on WhatsApp and privately. Why?
Because this is no ordinary storm. Because this is a monster of a system, packing winds which at Cat 5 can destroy concrete buildings. And carry rainfall which can devastate a nation.

So even people who don’t normally pray much or are even religious, accept, at least in their head, the need for #DivineIntervention.
But true Faith, which believes that God can do what seems impossible, and help us to be resolute and steadfast in the face of danger, and which leads us to protect the vulnerable and the disadvantaged, is a Gift from a Merciful and Loving God. And which spiritual truth was the thrust of a wonderful sermon delivered by the head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica, Bishop Howard Gregory, yesterday at my church.
And a truth which was ‘ my song in the night’, last night as I recalled our Bishop quoting St. Paul that we are to:

” Eagerly desire the greater gifts”.

Faith, Hope and Love.

Then this morning as I read the famous Jeremiah passage, the OT reading for Sunday ( at least one option), where the children of Israel, in exile, with their, ‘ backs against the wall’, and metaphorically facing their own #HurricaneMatthew, were given these words of comfort:

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.11-14.NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

And we all know the Truth, that sinful human beings can only find God in and through the shed Blood of Christ our Savior. Therefore our only response to danger of any sort, lest like the Facebook post we become too comfortable, is to seek to know Christ, the only mediator between God and sinful mankind. And not just pray for mercy from the ravages of Hurricanes, although that’s a good first step.

And then in Devotional Bible I encountered this meditation ( which is really what inspired me to write.)

YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME ( Edited)
Mozarabic Sacramentary – 3rd century liturgy used by believers in parts of the Iberian peninsula….Spain and Portugal

As you read, remember the Anthem: My Hope, My Faith, My Love all gifts from God, are built on nothing less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness.

FOR HOPE
Lord, when we think only of our own wants and desires, we are impatient to have them satisfied, yet in our hearts we know that such satisfaction will crumble to dust. Give us that spirit of hope which can enable us to want what you want, and to wait patiently on your time, in the knowledge that in you alone comes true and lasting pleasure.
FOR LOVE
O Lord, you have brought all your faithful people into a single, universal family, stretching across the heaven and earth. Bind us together with a spiritual love which is stronger than any human love, that in serving one another we may neither count the cost nor seek any reward, but think only of the common good.

FOR PEACE
O God, through the death of your Son, you reconciled us to one another, drawing us together in the bond of peace. In times of trouble and adversity, may your peace sustain us, calming our fretful and anxious hearts, and saving us from all hateful and violent activities.

FOR MERCY
O God, in revealing to us the perfect spiritual beauty of your Son, you have shown the grotesque ugliness of our depravity, and so filled us with remorse. We beg you, Lord, to reach down to us in your mercy, re-creating is us the image of your Son, that we may be fit to live with him in your heavenly kingdom.

Amen.
Comment: All prayers to a merciful God, in and through Christ and Him Crucified, ought then to have an element of repentance in them. So that as Solomon prayed: Lord hear and forgive, we too may pray for forgiveness and mercy.
In such a manner then we seek for the higher Gifts, and for Mercy, at all times, not presuming that we are any ‘ prayer warriors ‘ who know how to pray, and who ‘advertise’, that God hears our prayers. But rather acknowledging that ‘ we are miserable sinners’ seeking forgiveness and mercy. For ourselves and the people in Haiti and Cuba, and wherever danger exists. 

All because our Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness. And not on any merit of ours!
Peace, then as we continue to watch and pray. Without ceasing! In good times and in bad times.

Of Protests in Charlotte, Madness in Montego Bay, Sin and Repentance 

​GM: Of Madness in  Charlotte and Montego Bay, and of Sin and Grace 

“Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?

No, they have no shame at all, they do not even know how to blush”. Jeremiah 6:12
Which people was the Prophet Jeremiah talking about ?
White racists in the USA, and we thank God that all white folks are not like that,  who until now,  regard black people as inferior,  and which historical reality is the genesis of #CharlotteProtests. And not whether or not it was a black police officer who pulled the trigger, or whether the video filmed by his wife was ‘ inconclusive ‘. For Charlotte is a metaphor for the pain black folks feel for the years of brutality meted out to them by racist elements in the police force; some of whom don’t even know how to blush at their wickedness.
Young, rich,  and heartless scammers in Montego Bay Jamaica ( far removed from Young Gifted and Black),  who ‘ fight over their filthy lucre’, and cause mayhem to explode in the midst of our major tourist city. A behavior born out of a culture of wanton criminality which has been allowed to fester, if not aided and abetted by powerful forces, for far too long in my once tranquil and beautiful country. Now populated by far too many ‘ dog hearted gunmen’, who do not even know how to blush.
Consider in this mix, pedophiles, modern day human trafficking, the horrors of the African Slave Trade,  ISIS, the ‘ killing fields in Cambodia’, Genocide in Rwanda,  the Holocaust; all carried out by people who didn’t and don’t even know how to blush.
And as a Family Doctor who has treated rape victims and wives and partners,  who have been physically and emotionally abused by men who don’t even know to blush, the pain these folks feel only God can comfort.
So as the song says, ‘ what’s this all about ‘. Remember Lazarus and Dives; the rich man who,  in the famous Bible story ignored the suffering pauper at his gate. ” Even the dogs locked his sores”.

And then they both died and went separate places. One to the ‘ bosom’ of Father Abraham in heaven, the other to a place of eternal suffering.

So the rich man in hell, pleads for his brothers; that they might be ‘soared his fate by the now dead pauper,  living in glory, going and giving them 

a warning.
Then comes the heart of the Gospel reading in my church for tomorrow.

” They have the Law and the Prophets, if they ( his brothers)  don’t listen to them,  then not even if someone rises from the dead ( and we since Jesus told the story we know who He talking about) will they listen. Luke 16:19-31
I have read this story so many times, but this time in context; in association with the verses which proceeded it.

And the revelation came that ‘ if we don’t know how miserable sinners we are, and  repent – don’t even know how to blush – we can never love Jesus to the point where we are prepared to ‘ die to self, and follow Him to ‘ the Cross where he died’. 
For anything else, any other doctrine, has no power to change the hearts of wicked policemen in USA nor wicked gunmen in Jamaica. Whether or not we call out the army or engage in protests marches!
Then the strains of this song come into my heart:
I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,

  And it told Thy love to me;

But I long to rise in the arms of faith,

  And be closer drawn to Thee.

 

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,

  To the cross where Thou hast died;

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,

    To Thy precious, bleeding side.
For as I pondered on the fact that Sin caused God to be ‘ sorry He made mankind’ and was about to destroy the entire human race, but for Noah, who He found to be Righteous. A people whose  every inclination of their heart was to do evil. Genesis 6:5.
That Sin provoked The Holy One of Israel, The God of Jacob to send  His people, repeatedly into exile, destroying the very Temple which Solomon build for Him. The very people whom He rescued, with a mighty hand, from slavery in Egypt. And who within days, without even blushing exchanged the glory of God for a idol made of gold. Which is the reason why Jeremiah spoke as he did.
That,  in a nutshell,  is the sordid history of mankind, which you will not hear about on CNN nor read about in the New York Times. But which has come to us from the Law and the Prophets. And explains ‘ Montego Bay Madness ‘ which provoked a front page Editorial from The Daily Gleaner; and  Charlotte Protests which provoked the ‘blow by blow’ coverage by CNN.
That’s why King David, after committing one of the most egregious sins in all of history, combining adultery with conspiracy to murder, when confronted, ” blushed” and repented. And then gave the world the wonderful gift of Psalm 51, which contains the most instructive prayer of all times:
“Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me”. 51:10
I pray God, that all of us may learn well the message from Father Abraham, as told by Jesus, and consider well this issue of Sin. For the Word of God tells us that :
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2. Corinthians 7:10.
So there is a reason why we are known as Judeo-Christians. For we are called to reflect deeply on the events of the Old Testament, as written by the ‘ law and the prophets’.
Otherwise we will sing ” Your grace and mercy, brought me through”, and even ” Amazing Grace…that saved a wretch like me”, and yet not be prepared to ‘ die to self and follow Christ’ wherever He leads us, ‘ even to suffering and persecution ‘.
For only when we are fully  ‘ convicted of Sin’, can we really follow Christ. And help to rid,  our country, with the  power of The Living God,  of murderous scammers and racists. And rapists and spouse abusers and deceivers! 

Peace

Seven dead in One Day: Lord have Mercy 

​GN: 7 Murders in 1 Day, and Rescue from Death in 3 Hours 
Correction: #7 persons murdered… 1 person… was killed on Deanery Road in Kgn… not two as earlier reported.

This tweet above,  from a journalist,  says it all; why my soul was so troubled this week. Seven persons murdered in my country in one day. And it could have been eight!  The even more troubling thing is that such cumulative acts of  egregious wickedness on one day,  did not draw that much attention. Not in mainstream media. Not on Social Media. And not a whole lot from the authorities either!

I suspect, but may be wrong, that a worthwhile debate on #unkemptJa,  triggered by the exclusion of a three year old boy child from a preparatory school on account of his ‘ hairstyle’, brought out more passion and comment than #7Murdersin1day.
So as I pondered on this continued madness, the following  song became my partner:
O Jesus, I have promised 

to serve thee to the end:

be thou ever near me, 

my Master and my friend;

I shall not fear the battle

if thou art by my side,

nor wander from the pathway

if thou wilt be my guide……verse one.
For it is very clear that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation.
Then a verse which is the text for a sermon I am preparing to preach at my church this Sunday,  offered a perspective on the ” pathway” our Lord expects to trod in this #RescueMission.
” There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over the righteous who need no repentance”. Luke 15:1-10.

Then came the challenging Word!
” How beautiful are the feet that bring good news”. Romans 10.
So now we have the answer! For it is not the talk show hosts who Jesus expects to be ‘ in the battle ‘ to rescue or nation. Nor the PSOJ – the private sector leaders. Not the human rights body, Jamaicans for Justice. Nor any NGO, however powerful and well intentioned. And not even our Political Leaders, even though they have a clearly defined, and thus accountable to God, role to play. But rather ‘ the beautiful feet who carry the good news’ of Salvation.

 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that,  ‘ if you confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.’
And truly Saved, people who have repented and Baptized will not kill and rape and main and do all kinds of evil.

The kind of evil which has caused so much heartache for us who live here, and for those who love this place dearly, but live abroad.
This then is the high calling of the Church, the body of Christ. A called out people who have ‘ promised to follow Jesus, our Master and our friend, to the very end’.
So we have no business being distraught and hopeless about #7Murdersin1day. But rather to be constant in prayer for Jesus to be with us in the  battle for the soul of our blessed country.
Finally a word about prayer. From a book entitled:

Prayer: Experiencing Awe an Intimacy with God.

Extract:
” There are three basic kinds of prayer to God….” upward” prayer – praise and thanksgiving that focuses on God himself…..prayer of awe.

…..” inward ” prayer – self examination and confession that brings a deeper sense of sin and, in return, a higher experience of grace and assurance of love…..prayer of intimacy. 

…” outward ” prayer – supplication and Intercession that focuses on our needs and the needs of others in the world.
The Alpha Prayer
In Jesus’ instruction on prayer, the Lord’s prayer, praise comes first….Praise motivates the other kinds of prayer. The more we attend to God’s perfect holiness and justice, the more readily we see our own flaws and confess them.
Seeing God’s greatness also leads to supplication. The more we sense his Majesty and the more we realize our dependence on him, the more readily we go to him for every need.”
But before prayer our souls have to be disturbed. The question then is, ‘ how troubled are we about the state of our nation’.
Further, which Jesus have we pledged to follow to the end! The one who ‘ eats with sinners….the gunmen in West Kingston, the ‘ ladies of the night on back road ‘, the ‘ scammers in Montego Bay’, those who ‘ defend Gaza and Gully’ …..or the one who only enters the Church on a Sunday or Sabbath to talk to the ‘ righteous who need no repentance’ 
Maybe the third verse will help:

O let me hear thee speaking 

in accents clear and still,

above the storms of passion, 

the murmurs of self-will;

O speak to reassure me, 

to hasten or control;

O speak, and make me listen, 

thou guardian of my soul.
Pray God that above the storms of passion for Serena Williams, the fate of the #ReggaeBoyz,  our political party or leader #CampaignFinancing or even #unkemptJa, our denomination,  we may pledge Allegiance to the Lamb of God who died to #RescueAllMankind. From sin and death unto everlasting life! #Gospel

And from the madness of #7Murdersin1Day 

Peace

Killed by gunmen : Rejected by His people. Madness!

Two things haunted my soul this week. 

One from the news: the egregious sin of the murder of a two year child. An infant, not far removed from sucking on the breast, coldly and callously and deliberately shot to death by a wicked gunman! A child left behind by a loving father, according to the reports, only because he himself had been shot in a murderous rampage by evil men in one of Kingston’s inner cities this week, and ran for his life.

And our nation ‘moved on’, very quickly. No marching in the streets. No mass and thunderous condemnation of this evil act. No promises of never again! Maybe I missed it all! Just an eerie acceptance of this ‘ new normal’ in our society. Just like how the world ‘moved’ on quickly after the news from Aleppo about the children who were dying there surfaced this week.
The other, from the Word of God, a ‘terrible’ revelation of the ‘sin’ of Israel, and the ‘sin’ of Jamaica, and the reaction of a Loving Father God. And which Word explains why we in Jamaica, find ourselves, deeply immersed in a quagmire of murder and immorality. All because, like Israel, we have, ‘committed two sins…departed from the stream of living water…and created ‘other gods’, that can ‘ hold no water’….worthless things…the worship of which, leads to worthlessness. 

And the critical point is that ‘pride’ has entered our hearts, and so we think that we can do a better job of organizing our society, that ‘ The Lord who brought us ‘out of the land of Egypt’, and said open your mouth wide and I will fill it”.One of the most profound and instructive words I have ever read in the Bible.  And on which I have been meditating this week. For in it lies ‘ the divine witness’ against our nation. A nation like Israel, rescued from slavery by the Word of God, passed on to Sam Sharpe and George William Gordon and Paul Bogle, all National Heroes ( do we really think Usain Bolt belongs in such exalted company). A nation whose culture and mores were shaped, not just by Christian values ( a reminder that you cant’ have Christian Values and Attitudes, without Christianity) but by the very Word of God. A people previously, renown for ‘loving our neighbor’, but which on account of the sin of pride, ‘departed from the streams of living water’, and now is famous for ‘ killing our neighbor ‘; at the rate of 45/100,000 persons, according to a Daily Gleaner Editorial this week.

The passages of Scripture below do not need much explanation as the Word is ‘crystal clear’. The greater significance, is that all of them form part of the readings in my Church for this week. Readings which are known in advance of our worship service. And therefore the Word of God, in response to the ‘madness’ which took place downtown Kingston, was not something I had to go and search for. It was right there in front of me! And got into my very soul.

Especially….” Open your mouth wide and I will fill it”. For the eternal message from a good God, is that He alone can satisfy us with good things. All other gods, that we have fashioned, are ‘ thieves and robbers’. And one of the ‘keys’, if not the only one, to understanding the entire Bible, is to be found in 2 Corinthians 1:20:
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the ” Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. I pray God that as we read His Word and this message, which He woke me up at 4:45 am to write, we will not just ‘move on’, but that this Word, will ‘ haunt our very souls’ and lead us to repent, humble ourselves before a Loving and merciful God, ” with a broken and contrite heart”. And turn back to the One, who in Christ, promised that, ” if we open our mouths wide, He will fill it”. For He alone, can exalt this nation once again to peace and ‘loving our neighbor’. 

THE WORD OF GOD
Jeremiah 2:4-13

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.

 Thus says the Lord:

What wrong did your ancestors find in me

that they went far from me, 

and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?

They did not say, “Where is the Lord

who brought us up from the land of Egypt, 

who led us in the wilderness,

in a land of deserts and pits, 

in a land of drought and deep darkness,

in a land that no one passes through,

where no one lives?” 
I brought you into a plentiful land

to eat its fruits and its good things.

But when you entered you defiled my land,

and made my heritage an abomination. 
The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”

Those who handle the law did not know me; 

the rulers transgressed against me;

the prophets prophesied by Baal, 

and went after things that do not profit. 
Therefore once more I accuse you, says the Lord,

and I accuse your children’s children. 

Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,

send to Kedar and examine with care;

see if there has ever been such a thing. 

Has a nation changed its gods,

even though they are no gods? 

But my people have changed their glory

for something that does not profit. 

Be appalled, O heavens, at this,

be shocked, be utterly desolate,

says the Lord, 
for my people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me, 

the fountain of living water,

and dug out cisterns for themselves, 

cracked cisterns

that can hold no water.
Psalm 81:1, 10-16
Exultate Deo

1 Sing with joy to God our strength *

and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob.

10 I am the Lord your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said, *

“Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”

11 And yet my people did not hear my voice, *

and Israel would not obey me.

12 So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their hearts, *

to follow their own devices.

13 Oh, that my people would listen to me! *

that Israel would walk in my ways!

14 I should soon subdue their enemies *

and turn my hand against their foes.

15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, *

and their punishment would last for ever.

16 But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat *

and satisfy him with honey from the rock.
Sirach 10:12-18

The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord;

the heart has withdrawn from its Maker. 

For the beginning of pride is sin,

and the one who clings to it pours out abominations……

Pride was not created for human beings,

or violent anger for those born of women.

“….. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Part of the Gospel Luke 14:1, & 7-14 NRSV 

Bolt, Elaine and Omar in #Rio2016: Murder in Jamaica 

​GN: #GoldRush in #Rio2016: Murder most foul at home.

Elaine Thompson just, ‘ mash up de ting’,  and won the W200 final at #Rio2016. So once again we are celebrating #GoldRush in Jamaica. But then again something is not right, as:

Another tourist murdered in Negril.  😦

A Tweet I just read.
Which is the reason why I began writing this message from this morning!

This is how it started: 
I suspect that a virus called ‘ Boltmania’ has infected the mind of the person who wrote the Gleaner Editorial yesterday. If you have not read it have a look:
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20160816/editorial-bolt-among-gods-athletics
‘….we imbue them with transcendence’…… Seriously! 
‘ Bolt’s throne is secure in the place where the gods of athletics reside ‘
Seriously! Where is that?  For me that kind of language evokes memories of the Greek civilization, which like the Roman civilization, eventually perished. For these were a people steeped in pagan  mythology, and Zeus and other gods reigned supreme in their culture. I really thought given our Christian heritage we had moved on. But clearly not! 
But why am I disturbed if people in their excitement and joy, inspired by the grand performances of our athletes in #Rio2016 wish to celebrate and outdo each other in ‘ a rush of superlatives’?

Two reasons! 
One a Tweet – which triggered a ‘ conversation from my Twitter friend, (after the brilliant Gold Medal performances by Omar McLeod in the Men’s 110M Hurdles) an Atheist who I’ve never met face to face, but we ‘talk’  a lot. And she is even sometimes gracious enough to retweet my religious messages, although she claims she has no clue what Redemption is all about.
Tweets
“Meanwhile 3 killed in broad daylight on Lincoln Road… What a sudden drop in the mood…
@Petchary I was just saying the same thing…..Makes me afraid to watch the news after these brilliant performances.
@Eqlektik  I wish I hadn’t.  I came down with a bump!  😦 ”
Sadly,  the reality is that while we are labeling Bolt as being ‘ transcendent’, a term which,  at least in my mind, I reserve for the Supernatural, not just the extraordinary, Satan is still very active in our land.
And while some,  if not most,  would wish that we place all our focus on the  really scintillating and heart warming ‘ lick pot cover’, performances of Bolt, Elaine, Shelly Omar and others, with more to come,  we cannot ignore the other  reality.
 That for far too long we have become an extremely violent and undisciplined society. A land where life is cheap! And where Shakespeare’s ‘ widows howl ‘ in the mornings far too often;  on our roads on account of crashes,  and in our communities because of the  sheer wickedness of murderous and ‘dog hearted’ gunmen.
Which brings me to the second reason. The Word of God!  And perhaps I’m taking liberty with the text, but because of how my thoughts developed, I doubt it.
Read for yourself the Gospel Reading appointed for the worldwide Anglican Church this Sunday. And which reading contributed to the decision to write.
http://bible.com/111/luk.13.10-17.niv On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.   Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”   The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”    When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
So, can we be accused of ‘ raining on Bolt’s parade ‘, or being ‘ partypoopers ‘ or worse,  losing focus, if we point out that while #Jaminate is ‘ happening ‘…..if haven’t met the term you need to open a Twitter account and ‘ get with it’….so too is Satan ‘ keeping our people in bondage to the wickedness and chains of murder’.
Are we therefore going to claim that it is  ” Sabbath”, a special time to focus on Bolt and other athletic gods, and leave the ‘ healing of our nation until #Jaminate  finishes on the weekend. Until the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics?
How long before we decide as a nation that this madness cannot continue anymore. And ‘ draw a line in the sand’, coming together as one, as we are doing now on Twitter and Facebook, determined to root out this scourge of Crime and Violence in our land.
What special things, what ‘ Sabbath ‘ will we have to put aside in pursuit of Justice and Righteousness in our country!  Is it the violent and plain ‘out of order’, if  not demonic type dancehall and Soca lyrics,  which have infected the minds of our young and old, in the inner cities and uptown areas. Thus contributing to the slackness and violence which has become so pervasive in our society!
Is it the push for the ‘ almighty dollar ‘ and super profits, ‘ untouchables’ in the mind of the capitalist economy, which has contributed to the widening gulf between the rich and the poor in Jamaica?  And which gap has contributed to the cries of injustice in our land and fueled social discontent and crime.
Is the Police Force, reputedly populated with many corrupt cops, whose links with organized crime is the ‘ talk of the town, despite the presence of many brave and dedicated men and women, too powerful, too much of a ‘ special institution, to be completely reorganized as some have proposed?

Even though these corrupt cops, in the minds of many Jamaicans are part of the reason why Satan has been able to keep a nation in chains for so long!
Is the political system and those who hold power in garrison constituencies where gunmen live a protected and charmed life, too ‘ hot to handle’? Have we ‘ worshiped ‘ our politicians and our parties for far too long, despite the reality of the ungodly nexus between Dons and politics! Whether now or in the past. And whether or not such associations are ‘ active ‘ or ‘ used to be’…..#TalktheTruth.
And where ‘ have all the fathers gone’? When will they begin to ‘ sacrifice egoes, sacrifice sexual desires, and ambitions,’ in order that Satan may not take hold of their fatherless and therefore unprotected offspring. Many left to be drawn into a life of crime by the local Dons. Many end up on death row.
But the biggest problem by far, is the Church; as unredeemed people can hardly be expected to successfully fight against the wiles and power of the evil one – Satan.
Therefore when will the Church decide to put aside what they may consider ‘ sacred ‘, their equivalent of the Old Testament Sabbath, and lead the charge to rid Jamaica of the terrible scourge of Crime and Violence. To the Glory and honor of God.
Are we too focused on Church growth and paying little attention to rampant injustice in the society? Is the important Bible study session unrelated to the suffering of ‘ the least of these my children ?
Is the agenda for the annual Conventions and Synods, very important decision making institutions,  too parochial and too inward looking? 
Are the public prayers of the Church more focused on denominational and local church issues,  rather than, or in addition to,  the cries from Franz Fanon’s ‘ Wretched of the Earth’, in Aleppo ( Syria)  and in Denham Town in Kingston Jamaica?
Finally when will the Redeemed people of God, learn from the teachings of Holy Scriptures which inspired a hymn to which I was led this morning:
Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,

pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak but thou art mighty;

hold me with thy powerful hand:

bread of heaven,

feed me now and evermore.

For the Gospel Truth is that we cannot manage by ourselves to free our people from Satan’s grip on them; leading to dead locals and dead tourists. As we are weak!

But God is mighty and awesome and very present with us in times of trouble.
The writer for the editorial in the Gleaner,  should listen more keenly to the actions and words of our athletes in Rio. As almost all have expressed their faith in the Almighty God. Especially #RealShellyAnn. Therefore we ought  not to try to elevate them to the level of gods. For in their minds they are blessed and not exceptional – leave that claim to the Americans.

They are special but not transcendent.
We should learn from them as we celebrate #GoldRush in #Rio2016;  and as we mourn the death of innocence and kindness and graciousness and love for neighbor in far too many areas of national life.
For like Usain Bolt who looks to heavens before each race, so too should we :
Lift up my eyes to ” The maker of heaven and earth from Whom all our help cometh”.
And then who knows, maybe the Lord will have mercy on our Crime infested land and grant us peace. Because we trust in Him and not our weak and helpless people.
Peace