Monday, October 24, 2011

A new Prime Minister and new thoughts about an Eternal God

Just this evening I had the privilege, along with many other Jamaicans, of attending the ceremony at which our youngest Prime Minister ever at age 39, Andrew Michael Holness took off charge of the reins of power. People came from all walks of life. Some carried their " party hats", and cheered both the incoming and the outgoing Prime Ministers at every opportunity. Even one past PM was warmly received also as the crowd was in a festive mood. Both men of God, one who prayed at the beginning for the nation and our leaders, and the other who gave the benediction at the end, prayed with conviction and clearly under the power of God's Holy Spirit - so touching and appropriate were their prayers. When it was the new PM's his turn he spoke well and gave a clear indication of the issues that would be a priority under his watch. The Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen spoke well too. Very concise, touching the right points and his facility with the English language was refreshing. As was the former PM. But this new PM sounds like a no-nonsense man and seems willing to tackle the age old problem of tribal politics and garrison politics which has resulted in lines of demarcation separating communities, the breach of which can and has resulted in death and mayhem. He spoke about the upcoming 50th anniversary of our Independence and his hopes and aspirations for a new Jamaica. We wish him well and wait to see how he performs. Just today also , yet again, along with millions of people across the world, I had the privilege of sharing in " the body and blood of Christ", by participating in the sacrament of Holy Communion, or The Eucharist, or " Lord Supper" as some term this most wonderful event. All baptized and confirmed - the next step in the spiritual development in my church - persons are welcomed. Each Sunday morning I prepare and look forward to meeting Christ face to face by reflecting on the words of a great hymn: Here, O my Lord I see thee face to face; here faith would touch and handle things unseen; here grasp with firmer hand the eternal grace, and all my weariness upon thee lean. Here would I feed upon the bread of God; here drink with thee the royal wine of heaven; here would I lay aside each earthy load; here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven. I have no other help but thine; nor do I need another arm save thine to lean upon; it is enough, my Lord enough indeed, my strength is in thy might, thy might alone. This week, also, the Lord reminded in very dramatic fashion, that when I am weak, then He is strong. And so I went back to the Corinthian passage and read the relevant passage again: ....My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2. Cor. 12: 9-10 NIV I wonder if this new PM realizes that if he wishes to be strong in the Lord, as he rightly said this evening, that he has to be prepared to be the sight of men and of God. I wonder if he sincerely realizes that " he has no other help but thine" O Lord. Further, I wonder how many Christians delight in insults, weaknesses, persecutions, and difficulties, so that Christ's power may be made perfect in their weakness. Perhaps not, as this kind of living, is counter-culture, and counter-intuitive. But if we really wish to see a better Jamaica, a prosperous Jamaica, then we need not just a new Prime Minister, but a better understanding of who God is, and whose glory we seek. This week, in fact last night, I read a very disturbing passage of scripture: The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2. Thessalonians 2: 9-12 NIV The reality is that the concern for the poor, about which the new PM had much to say this evening, is not the worse thing that is happening in my country nor in the world. Just like how, in today's world, receiving the news that she is pregnant and not ready for a baby, is not the worse thing that can happen to a woman. It could have been HIV. Similarly, those who take responsibility to chart a new course for a nation need to appreciate the fact that perishing spiritually, is far worse than being poor. Yes, Jesus had a special concern for the poor and dispossessed, the persecuted and the ill treated, and so should we, but ultimately He died on the Cross of Calvary, in love, that " those that believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting...eternal... life". The essence of John 3: 16. So when I read that those who stubbornly refuse to to believe the truth about the life,death and resurrection of our Lord Christ, who we see face to face, not on TV, not at King's House, but in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and cntinue therefore in doing wickedness, will be sent a "powerful delusion", so that they will believe the lie " of Satan ", then is it not time for us, the baptized ones, to reach out with urgency, with faith and with the power of the Holy Spirit, to rescue our people from this imminent and eternal danger. This is the challenge for the church in any country. Whether they live in countries experiencing the " Arab Spring", or where " youth " is being empowered, or where " Wall street " is being challenged. To respond in love and in faith, to the " clear and present" danger that confront those who are not under the protection of the God of Jacob. No doubt, in order to validate the message of imminent danger at every level that we face, the Lord led me to reflect and send out as a text message the first verse of this hymn, which I was reading for the first time, but which was in close juxtaposition to a favourite..."New every morning is the love". Now that the daylight fills the sky, we lift our hearts to God on high, that he, in all we do or day, would keep us free from harm today. May he restrain our tongues from strife, and shield from anger's din our life, and guard with watchful care our eyes from earth's absorbing vanities O may our inmost hearts be pure, from thoughts of folly kept secure, and pride of sinful flesh subdued through sparing use of food. So we, when this day's o'er, and shades of night return once more, our path of trial safely trod, shall give the glory to our God All praise to God the father be, all praise, Eternal Son to thee, whom with the Spirit we adore for ever and for ever more. Finally a prayer which the new PM, and all world leaders, and leaders in different spheres of life, could adapt and adopt for their own situation. All in keeping with the message from God that " I have no other help but thine O Lord. FOR GOD'S GRACE IN OUR HELPLESSNESS - A prayer Peter Marshall - ( 1902 - 1949) A Scottish immigrant to the USA who served as Chaplain to the US Senate for two years. His life was eventually made into a film after the publication of a book by his wife entitled " A man named Peter". Verse: Judges 7:2 We know , our Father, that at this desperate hour in world affairs, we need thee. We need thy strength, thy thy guidance, thy wisdom. Thee are problems far greater than any wisdom of man can solve. What shall our leaders do in such an hour? May thy wisdom and thy power come upon the President of these United States, the Senators and Congressmen, to whom have been entrusted leadership. May the responsibility lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to thee. Give to them the honesty, the courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they don't know what to do. Only then can they lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom to thee, who alone has the answer. lead us to this high adventure. Remind us that a " mighty fortress is our God" - not a hiding place where we can escape for an easy life, but rather an arsenal of courage and strength - the mightiest of all, who will march beside us into battle for righteousness among world brotherhood. O our God, may we never recover from our feeling of helplessness and our need of thee! In the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, we pray. Amen O God indeed, may we never fail to realize how helpless we are without your help. In Jesus name, who died so that we may not perish, we pray.Amen