Sunday, June 16, 2013

Veronica Campbell Brown and the " Baying Hound of Heaven".

What a shocker! The news that the " queen" of Jamaica's Track and Field team, Veronica Campbell Brown (VCB) had returned a positive test for a banned substance, rocked the entire nation this week. One seasoned photographer who must have taken her pictures, many many times, told me yesterday, that he had nightmares for the first time in his life. A reaction which captured the essence of the mood of many Jamaicans.  Confused! Embarrassed! Hoping against all hope that there is plausible explanation!  And I dare say not just the locals but the entire track and field fraternity and fans across the globe, as VCB was, and is still loved and highly respected, and has a huge fan base. We are hoping that some mitigating circumstances may emerge to explain this absolutely devastating news. And therefore we pass no judgement but hope that a mistake, a very bad and no doubt costly mistake was made, and not a calculated and cynical attempt to mask the use of a performance enhancing drug.  Regardless of what emerges as the authorities  release more and better particulars over the next few days, the facts as offered by herself or the JAAA or the JOA  or the IAAF,  such information  will affect in some way, shape or form  the credibility of the Jamaican Track and Field Programme, the success of which is a huge part of Brand Jamaica. So this is no small matter of whether or not she trained overseas or was with a local track team, or whether damage control can limit the fallout to an individual. Veronica's name and fame is far too big for that kind of wishful thinking. This is therefore a national crisis of significant proportions. This is high drama! Far outstripping the fall from grace of the Reggae Boyz and the early exit of the West Indies Cricket team from the Champions Trophy in England, and even the movement of the Jamaican currency.

So what did the Lord say this week even before VCB's name appeared on the front page of the newspapers over the weekend. All is not lost! As regardless of whether or not, and it is very unlikely that they would, the Jamaican officials and nation as a whole and even across the world, turn their backs on VCB, God still loves her. Whether  she made a honest mistake or was more calculated in the same way David treated Bathsheba's husband Uriah ...the Old Testament reading today in my church.  And look how the Lord who declared that " David was a man after his heart" treated David when he sinned egregiously and then repented when accosted by Nathan the prophet. After punishment he was restored to a new relationship with God and penned Psalm 51 which has become such a blessing to so many over the centuries. 

The Gospel reading for today  from Luke, was even more pointed and poignant. In it, the story of the ' sinful' woman, quite likely a prostitute, and who received forgiveness from Jesus unfolds. We are told how she sought the Lord, uninvited to Simon the Pharisees home, a " party crasher" as labelled by my Rector. And how with tears of repentance she washed the Savior's feet and wiped them with her hair. How she received forgiveness because of her faith in the Only One who could forgive her of her many many sins. How she was forgiven much because she loved much. Later in the gospels we are told how much it cost the Lord, our Father in heaven,  to forgive. The suffering and death of His only Son, Jesus the Christ, who was sent by a God who pursues mankind with a Love which is beyond all human understanding. And so I was moved to send this note about the correct faith to a group of persons which is all about the drama taking place at another level in this world.


Even if you are not a believer, and therefore,  do not share a common understanding on the
 " correct faith" , one can still  appreciate the beauty of the language which makes a 'valiant attempt'  to describe the love of God and His faithfulness in pursuing mankind. I debated in my mind, briefly, very briefly whether or  not  I should only be sending this excerpt to believers, and certainly not to folks to whom another message was sent just  this morning. But I was given clear instructions. 

On reflection just now I am reminded of the  ad by TNT that ends by  saying " we know drama". But their knowledge of man and his needs is at a different level altogether. In fact the essence, so far,  of Kelly's argument, is that we live, as Christians, at two levels. One superficial and outward, and the other deeper and within the Divine Light. And it is only when we learn to live continuously in the Divine Light, that God's  holy and perfect will, will in fact influence, without any conscious effort, our outward and visible actions. Otherwise we fail to bring to bear on our life on this earth, the power and wisdom of God. And so like TNT, continue to think that " we know drama". Or perhaps like the news editors, think that they have captured the important issues that surfaced during the day.  But have missed the mark altogether. As there is much more. So much more! And which 'much more',  can explain so much of the behavior of mankind in today's world...and in the world gone by...and in the world our children will inherit.

Thomas R. Kelly's :  A  Testament of  Devotion...the start of the chapter on Holy Obedience

 Out in front of us is the drama of men and of nations, seething, laboring, dying. Upon this tragic drama in these days our eyes are all  set in anxious watchfulness and in prayer. But within the silences of the souls of men an eternal drama is ever being enacted, in these days as well as in others. And on the outcome of this inner drama rests, ultimately, the outer pageant of history.

It is the drama of the Hound of Heaven baying relentlessly upon the track of man. It  is the drama of the lost sheep wandering  in the wilderness, restless and lonely, feebly searching, while over the hills come the wiser Shepherd. For His is a shepherd's heart, and He is restless until He holds His sheep in His arms. It is the drama of the Eternal Father drawing the prodigal son home unto Himself, where there is bread enough and to spare. It is the drama of of the Double Search, as Rufus Jones calls it. And always its chief actor is - the Eternal God of Love.

It is to one strand in this inner drama, one scene, where the Shepherd has found His sheep, that I would direct you. It is the life of absolute and complete and holy obedience to the voice of the Shepherd. But ever throughout the account the accent will be laid upon God, God the initiator, God the aggressor, God the seeker,  God the stirrer into life, God the ground  of our obedience, God the giver of the power to become children of God.

May we respond with adoration and obedience to this God who seeks, and seeks, and seeks the souls of men, through this and so many, many  other means. In and through the shed Blood of Christ on  the Cross  of Calvary
Sent from my iPad

Comment - The phrase " the Hound of Heaven baying relentlessly on the track of man",  captures the very essence of the relationship that God has with sinful man. Sinful mankind who all owe a debt to a holy God that we cannot repay. So whatever sin or mistake or error of judgement  VCB made,  we need to look past that and remember that ' but for the grace of God goeth I'. So we pray for both mercy and exoneration for VCB,  for  this whole episode  should serve as a major wake up call, regardless of the outcome, for all Jamaicans who forget that " all have sinned before God" and  therefore can be subject to His wrath at anytime. Consequently , beginning with the events that took place on the Cross and continuing with His Resurrection and Ascension and the formation of the church, the Hound of Heaven has been baying after the track of mankind. In Jamaica! In the USA! In the UK ! And all over the world!.
We need to remember this as we rejoice in the  2.99/min " war' between Digicel and Lime. We need to put things in perspective as we dream about owning a new Blackberry or Samsung or iPhone. We need to remember these things as we celebrate the 'clashes' between our favourite dance hall stars. Life is therefore more than the drama created by TNT or by what we can see and hear and touch. And can overtake you in a flash! This was the essence of the message sent to the same group the morning before which included a passage of scripture which explains our previous state before the " Hound of Heaven" intervened.


Far way from the the picture of a dejected 'Tappa' and the voices calling for Neville " Bertis' Bell to take over the Boyz; far away from the angst and pathos of that young girl in Seaview Gardens whose picture in the newspapers captured the mood  of a nation sickened by the constant flow of blood on the streets; far away from the unseemly debate between A. J. Nicholson and the Jamaican Exporters ; far away from the house in the upscale section of Kingston in  which  gays men  are squatting  and have been creating havoc in that community; far away from all of that comes a Word which brings us near to God, and calls us to " Be still and know that I am God". In the midst of the madness! And the dejection! Words which capture the essence of the " correct faith". And which therefore have huge implications for how we can create a kinder and more gentle society.

The Word of God
"As for you, you were dead in your transgression and sins, in which you used to live when you when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit which is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were still dead in our transgressions - it is by grace that have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in hr heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he may show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV

Blaise Pascal - No one ever believes with a true and saving faith unless God inclines his heart; and no man when God does incline his heart can refrain from believing.

I pray God that He may incline the hearts of all of us  to believe so that our country may be at peace.  But first we have to humble ourselves before an Almighty God  who " gives grace to the humble, but the proud he scatters".

Finally, I am not worried about VCB as she has always been a humble servant of the nation, even when we elevated her to " royal status". And therefore God will be with her in her time of anxiety and pain. All she has to do is to remember to   "Be still and know that I am God". I am the God who healeth thee...And in thee I have put my trust. But frankly speaking I am deeply concerned about my country as  more and more persons seem to be turning their back on the Living God, who created the heaven and earth with his outstretched hand. In the midst of all this madness, the Lord, the baying  Hound from Heaven sends a warning of what can happen in a blink of an eye. Let us beware lest we too who think we are secure, fall from grace.

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