“For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given….” (Isa 9:6)
These words spoken by the prophet of old, Isaiah not only foretold the birth of the Christ Child but also underscored the inherent principle of our faith, for which we reflect on and celebrate during the Christmas season. The fact that the promised Messiah came to earth provides a hope that transcends our circumstances and gives us cause to believe that there is a purpose for all we do, greater than ourselves. During the Christmas season we are reminded of that hope.
Christmas is a time to give because we understand that the Christ of Christmas first gave us life, the ability to become what we were created to be and the capacity to enjoy every blessing bestowed upon us each day. Christmas challenges us to think of others, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves and to demonstrate kindness towards our fellowman. It is in this vein that I encourage each of us during this Yuletide Season to reflect on the meaning of Christmas and to be motivated to let the values inherent in this season be evident in our lives more and more.
Across the world in which we live we see too much suffering and we see persons who flee from they homeland as migrants, hoping that the humanity of others would be bestowed on them. We see the traditions and ideals of our society being challenged and their relevance being called into question. This has been a year where too many of our people, including regrettably, some of our children, have been untimely taken from us, and in circumstances that bring no honour to our society and to our humanity. The heritage of strong families, brotherly love, community spirit and voluntarism, bequeathed to us by generations past, seem to be fading. While we understand the need for progress and the ability to adapt to change, we must be uncompromising about those things that have proven to enrich humanity, build strong institutions and embolden the human spirit.
Thank God there are still positive signs of these traditions in some of our communities; I however hope this can be the norm rather than the exception. I would like to salute those groups who bring Christmas cheer to the less fortunate at this time, especially our children and those who are shut-in. Of note are the Love crew led by Terry “Mexican” Arthur and other musicians, various schools and religious groups and the Barbados Homeless & Vagrants Society, all doing yeomen service in our society.
During this Christmas, I pray your hope will be strengthened. Hope that was evident by those who looked forward to the birth of Christ over 2000 years ago. Hope that the current circumstances of our nation will change; hope that our people will be encouraged to believe that there is better ahead; and hope that we can coalesce around our individual strengths to produce a collective response to chart our future and our destiny. All of us are in this together.
Remember, friends, to give this Christmas; to share with someone in need and in all of your merriment, pause to reflect on the fact that we can, indeed we must keep, hope alive.
I would like to share something very personal with you.
When I came to public life, the priest who christened me as a baby, Father Andrew Hatch gave me a card with the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, the Prayer of Peace, which he encouraged me to keep and to guide my thoughts, my words and my actions. Today, as many of us face serious challenges of one type or another, I feel moved to share it with you my fellow Barbadians, I ask you with the hope that it will be as inspirational and as rewarding to each of you as it has been to me and many others. I ask those who are within earshot of my voice, and who know this prayer, to join me as I recite this great prayer for our nation and our people.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.
I wish each and every one of you a blessed Holiday Season.