It is my absolute pleasure to serve as patron of the National Prayer Vigil and to share with you again on this occasion when we join hands in solidarity and humility to pray. I think this occasion would allow me to join the angel’s proclamation…
This is the 23rd year that we are meeting for this ‘service of supplication’ to intercede with God on behalf of our nation. At the outset I want to recognize His Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient intervention in our lives, and our commitment to make ourselves available to serve Him and our fellowmen and women.
I wish to acknowledge, with much gratitude, the work of the National Prayer Vigil Committee over the years, and the parishes that have hosted and conducted the service – this year being the Ocho Rios Ministers Fraternal. Thank you so much for your support and leadership. I thank the faithful followers of this programme and the congregation that is assembled here this evening to continue this necessary annual intercession. Your presence testifies that even though the effects of prayer might not be immediately evident, prayer has not lost its power to transform our homes, our communities and our nation.
The act of praying and even more so of possessing a prayerful heart, evokes a renewal of confidence and assurance about our future, in which Jamaica’s future is inextricately bound.
Let me share with you this evening a thought on Prayer from Mahatma Ghandi.
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.”
And also from one of my favourite author, Ellen White:
“Prayer is the opening up of the soul to God as to a friend”.
On the basis of these two beautiful thoughts “prayer as having a heart without words, and a conversation with a friend,” we can all participate in this service both in radio-land and the congregation assembled here at the Ocho Rios Baptist church.
We do not have to multiply words, or even speak, because the Father of all mercy and grace knows what we need even before we ask. Our conversation therefore, with Him and our petition, is simply to acknowledge and recognize the source of all good gifts; and reverently and respectfully communicate our thanks for what He is doing in our lives. For it is in Him that “We live and move and have our being”.
Justice Peace Unity and Healing
My brothers and sisters, if we are to proceed and give meaning to our pledge to make Jamaica play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race, it is imperative that we endorse the principles of “Justice, Peace, Unity and Healing”.
This year we have had some very chilling and depressing activities in our nation and our hearts ache for the persons who have been victims in these circumstances, especially for our children and youth.
This is certainly not the place or time to apportion blame and alliterate atrocities, this is the time when we plead to God for healing and forgiveness, for that which is past and for the courage and strength to live our conviction, face the future and make a difference.
This work that we must do for Jamaica, for our people, is not only within the walls of the church, but a large portion of our ‘deeds of love and mercy’ is outside of the “sacred sanctuary”. The work that we must do for Jamaica is not coming to seek us out in the church. On the other hand, we must go where people are hurting:
· On the ‘back roads’ of Jamaica,
· In the children’s homes,
· In the schools,
· In the families in our communities…
And we must be the advocates and mentors for: the marginalized, the helpless, the hopeless, the perishing and the dying.
This is why we unite our efforts as a church community every year, to afflict and arm ourselves for the struggle against evil stalking our land, in such gruesome, shocking and subtle manner that grates against our sensibilities. It is my sincere wish this evening that we will not cower in the face of such reprehensible happenings, neither become waggonists on issues with which you can easily identify because the majority thinks that way. But we will find the strength and courage to labour tediously ‘in the shadows’ among:
· The abused
· The victims
· The sick
· The hungry
· The homeless
· The jobless
· The lonely
· The burdened
· The stressed
And working as:
· Prayer partners and friend.
We cannot go forward as a nation and ignore these hurting individuals in our society. There are too many in that group to be ignored or forgotten. How can you be praying for your brother or sister who is hungry, to get food, when you have enough to give? It is our tangible response to the needy in situations, that we gather each year to pray for, this is the litmus test of our success.
This will determine if we are achieving our objectives.
And lest you think that I am proclaiming some lofty platitudes, let me remind you that it is doable. Those who have ears to hear, listen: “there’s nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed with what is right with Jamaica”.
But to achieve ‘what is right’ we must not allow our dogmas, creeds, our associations, our politics, our status or anything else to divide us. One word must permeate our associations and be consistent in all our talk and conduct:
· It is the last commandment given by our Lord shortly before He ascended into heaven
· It is the constant in all religions and expressions of faith
· It is the one word whose principles supersede our dogmas and accretions and propel us to serve our country and humanity – “ LOVE”.
This is the theme of the song that was voted the ‘anthem of the millennium’, sung by our own late reggae star Hon Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley: ‘one love, one heart let’s get together and feel alright”. Can we tweak the words a little and say “let’s get together and do what’s right” for Jamaica?
I pray with you tonight, that God will empower Visionaries in His church and in our country who will lead the cause for moral rearmament, so that Jamaica may be healed and in unity proceed on a path of peace, love and justice.
Thank you for attending and may God bless you every one, and bless Jamaica land we love.