In 1992 when the first National Prayer Vigil took place on the grounds of King’s House Under the Distinguished Patronage of then Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke, I do not think he or the organisers could envisage that 27 years later, this service would be as relevant as that first time.
I acknowledge and graciously recognize the leadership given to this National Prayer Vigil by the committed men and women at the National Committee and the Minister’s Fraternal in the Parishes, who unfailingly, year after year, along with their congregations, intercede with God on behalf of our nation.
This year, the relevant and powerful theme of “Justice, Unity, Peace and Healing” are urgent needs of our country today.
Justice is the principle of moral rightness and decency. We often hear demonstrators chanting, ‘We want justice!’ when they feel their social and economic needs are not being met adequately. Everyone wants to be treated fairly and our Constitution protects our rights against discrimination. Jamaica has a great Judiciary and we often express pride in our justice system. Unfortunately, that does not always trickle down to the masses, and there are still instances when citizens feel aggrieved.
National unity is crucial to lead the nation towards progress and prosperity. It is unity that promotes peace and love in a nation. Where people are united, they can put their effort into the elimination of vices like corruption. It gives people a sense of security because they are able to know each other better and understand each other’s sensitivity. Unity promotes co-operation and opens the opportunity for excellence. For this we pray!
Peace may be defined as the absence of conflict. As the hymn says, we need “Peace in our hearts . . . Peace in our Church. . . Peace when the world its endless war is waging, and, Peace in God’s heaven.” If we were able to resolve our differences more peacefully and amicably, there may not have been so many fatalities this year due to domestic violence.
Lastly, we must all admit that our nation needs healing. Our land needs healing from all the bloodshed! We need physical, mental, moral, emotional, and spiritual healing in our personal lives, at the workplace, and in our dealings with others.
At this National Prayer Vigil, we are in part heeding the advice of the prophet Ezra who spoke on God’s behalf saying, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country.”
As we pray for justice, unity, peace, and healing, we humbly ask:
“Lord of our life and God of our salvation, Star of our night and Hope of every nation; Hear and receive Your Church’s supplication, Lord God Almighty.”
Let the words of our National Pledge motivate is to “stand up for Justice, Brotherhood and Peace.”
Thank you St. Thomas for leading out in this year’s Prayer Vigil on behalf of the nation. I trust you will receive a special blessing as you seek these virtues in your Parish as well.
I trust that our hearts will be encouraged this evening as we humble ourselves and seek God’s blessings on this our nation, “Jamaica, land we love.”
May the peace of the Lord be with you!