I greet you very warmly and commend the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) for spearheading this service to mark the beginning of Heritage Week 2016. We gather here this morning to worship God – thank Him for the self-sacrificing love and labour of our Heroes, with the hope that the legacy of courage can be embraced by our generation and passed on to those following.
This year’s theme “Our Heritage…Our Legacy…Our Strength” draws together the past and the future and centers both on the present. You and I know, my brothers and sisters that, we have a rich heritage, created out of oppression, struggle, resilience and triumph over overwhelming odds. The Maroon wars with Nanny emerging as one of its fearless, peerless leaders; the sacrificial leadership of Samuel Sharpe, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon cleared a path of hope for Jamaica. That path led Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley to inspire and develop the foundational structures of government, with policies which have brought us into a confident fifty-four-year-old independent nation.
Today we continue to use the inspiration and the opportunities created by our Heroes, as well as the traditions of our parents, to serve as the template to open new horizons of social progress, of economic growth and individual excellence. The future is a canvas awaiting the picture that this generation and Jamaicans yet unborn are to paint.
My fellow Jamaicans, we have the responsibility today to seize the moment and use our gains in ways which will make our actions count. We must use every opportunity to build our lives, and the life of our nation, on foundations which are secure; values which are sound and sustainable; relationships which demonstrate sensitivity and respect, and actions which reflect an inescapable ‘duty of care.’
As I greet you this morning, and look forward to a worship service of inspiration, I remind you of the increasingly accepted proposition that we must use our best gifts and talents to fix what is so wrong with our country.
In the context of this morning’s worship service, it is quite proper to contemplate the love and service of the undisputed, undefeated Hero who walked this earth – Jesus Christ; whose life and service is the model for all who served humanity and all who wish to offer themselves in this regard.
May God hear us today and answer our prayers on behalf of ourselves, our family and nation as we strive for peace, love and unity, and moving forward, together.
God bless you and God bless Jamaica, Land We Love.