It is a real pleasure to be with you here in my native/home parish of Portland, for the 24th Annual National Prayer Vigil, in this beautiful Christ Church in Port Antonio. Our vigil for Justice, Unity, Peace and Healing, has this year taken us to one of the most peaceful places in Jamaica - this tranquil parish whose cause of disturbance is mainly by acts of nature. This year is no exception with the near disaster of the outer bands from hurricane Matthew. Otherwise we enjoy and boast that peace you have in Portland.
Indeed, we are grateful for this occasion, which provides the opportunity for Jamaicans to step away from the strain, stress and pressures of daily living, to unite in prayer on behalf of the nation and for the healing, for justice, unity and peace, which our people desperately seek and deserve. My brothers and sister, while the results of prayer are not always immediately evident, this act of coming together to pray will no doubt plant seeds of hope, cooperation and unity, for a more stable and courteous society. Through prayer, we believe, individuals in this nation can develop a way of life that is reverent, respectful, responsive, loving and demonstrative of a strong ‘duty of care’ for each other.
I take this opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, to commend the Rev. Dr. Roy Henry, chairman of the National Prayer Vigil Committee and his colleagues for arranging the Annual Vigil and ensuring that each parish is given the opportunity to host the activity. I am assured that Pastor Robert Phillips and his parish committee who organized this evening’s Vigil have strengthened the fellowship between members of the Ministerial Fraternal in Portland. I hope that the fellowship will deepen among all Christians, so that we may be effective channels of God's love right across Jamaica that the prayer of Jesus may be achieve in our lives that we all may be one.
To fully understand the theme: "Justice, Unity, Peace and Healing" we need only to reflect on our journey as a nation over the past 54 years; the turbulent times we have been through and why it was necessary 24 years ago, under the patronage of one of my predecessors, the late Sir Howard Cooke, to call for this Vigil with the stated themes - Justice, Unity, Peace and Healing.
Our nation has not yet escaped the cauldron of brokenness, unrest, inequity, abuse – especially of our children and the vulnerable, warring factions and enmity; and as long as these conditions exist the call to prayer is always relevant. I have no need to add to the iteration of distressing condition as you hear them every day, and see them in the media. For 24 years, however, Rev. Dr. Roy Henry has given leadership and faithfully coordinated this Initiative allowing each parish to experience the joy and privilege of praying for the nation, its leaders and people. Thank you, Rev. Henry, Evangelist Rattray, Reverend Honeygan and your committed team at the national and parish levels.
I want to say to all of Jamaica and persons within these environs that this is a good time to reflect on our achievements this year, to look at our setbacks and where we appear to be just standing still and marking time; and at this time we need to resolutely commit ourselves, with God’s help to make the changes that are necessary for progress in our families, communities, churches, schools, institutions, and the nation as a whole.
I urge all worshippers to renew your own commitment to contribute to the creation of a society in which:
• Justice and peace reign supreme,
• There is unity of purpose,
• Tribalism and the protest culture are fast fading,
• Differences are reconciled with respect for each other, and
• We are each other’s keeper.
Let there be peace on Earth and that society will see us fully the dream of the author that, “There be Peace on Earth and Let it begin with me…”
There are many aspects of national life which need fixing, which cannot be fixed by mere human hands. We need the help of the Almighty. And we are assured of that by the conditions which apply in 2 Chronicles 7 : 14 that:
"If my people who are called by my name
shall humble themselves and pray and seek God’s intervention,
as they turn from their wicked ways; I will
hear from heaven, forgive their sin
and will heal this land."
It is no secret that faith and prayer have played an important role in the life of our country, as it has in my life, and I hope that you will continue this tradition, and do not become weary in doing well.
My brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, let us be confident that:
"He who begun a good work in us will see it to completion.”
God is blessing Jamaica!
God is guarding us with His Mighty Hand!
God will keep us free from evil powers,
And God will grant us the knowledge and wisdom to live peacefully, truthfully, honestly and justly in Jamaica, land we love.”