The big news for me, at one level, this week, was the huge tax package announced by the government. No doubt influenced by our need to return to a borrowing relationship with the IMF on account of devastation that the world recession has had on our fragile and open economy. However, regardless of the cause, folks are angry one the one hand, and bemused on the other. Was there no alternative to yet another hike in the gas tax? How could they tax basic food items, including vegetables? How are we going to pay the light bill which is now subject to GCT? Why didn't they place a one off tax on the banks, some which made huge and unexpected profits this year ? The basic truth is that, as a nation we have been living above our means for many years and have accumulated a huge debt and now the " chickens have come home to roost", and it has taken a IMF rescue plan to wake us up to reality. But that is only one side of the story. What has happened to all this money that we have borrowed over the years? Who has benefited? Why are the poor being asked to bear the brunt of this " wake up call"? Why have successive governments and leaders been so ineffective in charting a path to create wealth for our country which once enjoyed a relatively high standard of living and a position of some eminence in the world compared to our situation of misery? How much has corruption in high places accounted for our dire economic and social situation?No doubt everyone will have his or her own answer to these and other equally disturbing questions, but as I ponder on them from distance among family in Miami where I have come to spend the Christmas holidays, there is yet another, and more important question we have to face. What is the Lord's will in all of this? Are these things taking place only by chance or for solely secular reasons? In this season of " God doing the impossible" in and through Mary, and of angels bearing good news about the Christ child, what does the God of all Creation, of Israel, of the USA and of my country Jamaica and the entire world have to say about our situation? And the God who is always ahead of us provided a startling, to some, but a continued, warning to to others, in a Psalm I read this week - the one following the Psalm appointed for this week in my church. Actually Psalm 80 has some very direct words for us too, but I was more struck by those in Psalm 81." Hear O my people, and I will warn youif you would but listen to me, O Israel!You shall have no foreign god among you;you shall not bow down to an alien god.I am the Lord your God,who brought you out of Egypt.Open wide and I will fill it.But my people will not listen to me;Israel will not submit to me.So I gave them over to their stubborn heartsto follow their own devices.If my people would but listen to me,if Israel would follow my ways,how quickly would I subdue their enemiesand turn my hand against their foes......Psalm 81:8-13 NIVThere are three issues here; is Jamaica special to the Lord and where is the evidence for it? Further, is it anymore special than any other nation? And finally, despite the many and varied hardships that we are encountering, has God really " ...given us over" ? The answers to them and many other profound and simple questions in life are to be found in the ultimate objective of the Christmas story....." For God so loved the world........so that we should not perish but have everlasting life" - John 3:16 the most popular verse in the Bible. The evidence for the special love the God has for all mankind, ans His provision for our " rescue", is the sacrificial death that the Christ child, now a fully grown Man, and fully God, died on the Cross of Calvary.
There are many hymns that attest to the sufficiency of the blood of Christ, but the following one, and not by chance, helped me a lot in my devotions this week.
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am , though tossed about
With many a conflict many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God I come.....
The reality is that though Jamaica has some peculiar problems, and many leaders in various spheres of life, and perhaps those in politics given their power and hence responsibility have more to bear, have a lot for which to answer, but nations all over the world are in turmoil. From America, to the EU, to Russia, to Pakistan, to Japan, to South Africa, to Palestine. All on account of sin, and the alien gods that they have erected in place of the " living God of Jacob, of Moses, of David - who wrote many of the Psalms - of Mary, of John the Baptist and of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our case many, especially the young, had placed their hopes in the Prime Minister Golding. As many others, throughout the years, for different reasons, had placed their hopes in their favourite politician. Joshua, Uncle Eddie, Sister P, Busta, Manley and now "the driva". So Americans, and by extension, the " free world", should be warned against placing too much hope in Obama, and equally so the Russians about Medeyev and Putin.This is the essence of the message of Christmas to the politically correct, " Happy Holidays" world. That, only in and through Christ will there ever be lasting peace in this world, and more importantly, in the next.So let us all dry our tears, shed our fears, and follow the advice of the hymnwriter and focus on the sufficiency of the " Blood of Jesus", and spread the good news far and wide, to Prime Ministers and ordinary citizens alike, that Jesus is the answer to every problem known to man, and even for those that we do not yet know about. For only He can do the impossible, and of which supernatural dose, my debt burdened, "shotta" ( murderers) infested, country is desperately in need of right now.
Therefore, on the basis on the Redemption wrought by the Blood of the Christ child :
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict many a doubt
Fightings and fears within, without
O Lamb of God I come......this Christmas, and every day, in Jamaica,in the Caribbean, in America, in Canada, in the UK, in Nigeria, in Singapore, in Russia, in Chile, in Costa Rica, in Uruguay, in ........we all come.
I pray God that we shall all celebrate the birth of the Christ child this week Friday, in the full knowledge that it is only on the basis of His shed Blood on the Cross of Calvary, which followed His birth in Bethlehem, that sinful and disobedient mankind can escape the wrath of the living God and find true merriment and true peace in this troubled world. Merry Christmas to you all.