The terrible consequences of that powerful earthquake which devastated Haiti two weeks ago still continue to haunt my mind. But in the midst of the pathos and the rubble, in the midst of the dead bodies being unceremoniouslythrown into huge pits, the Haitian people found the strength to march downtown, what is left of Port au Prince, and praise God for His mercy. This television clip really touched my heart this week.
Then just this morning our main newspapers carried in the headlines the murder suicide of a couple. An apparently distraught husband, a banker, shot his wife, who also works with a financial institution, several times. Then shot himself. He died on the spot. She succumbed to her wounds at the hospital. Two children of the union were left. And I pondered how powerful and how wicked is the evil one who would move someone to commit such a dastardly act.
Then I went to the closing session of the annual Kingston Keswick Convention, a tradition of the church coming together in a particular geographic location, leaving behind their denominational agendas and prejudices and seeking God in and through Christ in a deeper and more intimate way. A tradition which started in the UK, by an Anglican and a Quaker in 1875, and and which has become popular in many countries. So, moved by the Spirit of God, I went and heard these challenging words.
" You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and rampled by men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither so people light a lmp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light ot everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men so that they made see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven".
The preacher had been building up to this climax all week. Announcing first that, Christ's miracles, healings and death and Resurrection, heralded the breaking through of God's Kingdom here on earth. That therefore all kingdoms - nations, civilizations, philosophies - would one day fall under the Sovereignity of God's Kingdom. Secondly that evidence that we were Kingdom people was to be found in how well all the Beatitudes, not some of them, were manifest in our lives. Poor in spirit - acknowledging our sinfulness. Mourning on account of wickedness and evil in the land: murder, immorality, poverty, injustice. Meekness - manifested as humility in all situations, especially when provoked or wrongfully accused. Possessed on a hunger for God;
" wanting to want". People of mercy - showing mercy to others on account of how God has been merciful to us on the Cross. The pure in heart: not double minded, not wishing to have it both ways but absolutely dependent on God. Peacemakers - those who would sacrifice much in times of injustice and strife and risk danger to bring peace. The persecuted - those whom the world villifies and slander on account on their stance for Christ; "blessed are you". " Rejoice and be exceedingly happy". A counter culture response.
Then tonight he explained, and reminded us, that these were signs that we were part of God's Kingdom. But so what! We were not meant to be holy for our own sake and salvation but to be transforming agents in the world. So unless all of these signs on being in God's Kingdom resulted in our being " salt" in the world, we were of no use to God. And worse, run the risk of being " trampled upon".
So the responsibility of rescuing Jamaica from gunmen, from evil in the homes of respectable citizens, from evil in the inner cities, from evil lyrics leading our young and not so young astray, from corrupt policement, does not rest with the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, nor with the businessclass nor with the professionals or the journalists, except they are part of God's Kingdom. And the church, the collection of individuals in whom God's Holy Spirit dwells, and who have submitted themselves to the reign of Christ, we the Baptised who are available to Christ are the salt and the light. No one else. And so he declared