A Christmas Message by Sir Dr. Godfrey Gregg, Archbishop and Apostolic Head
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” St. Matthew 1:21
Today the Patriarch Sir Dr. Darrindel Hoyte-Johnson of the Mystical Order of Spiritual Baptist Inc. joins with me to send greetings to the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Christmas is about giving and sharing, just as we reflect on the birth of the Christ child many, many years ago. Unfortunately, every year we put Christ back in a manger as we celebrate such an important time of the Christian calendar. Christmas is a season of universal festivity. Even non-believers perceive that there is something extraordinary and transcendental about the Christmas season.
At Christmas we pause to contemplate the Nativity. We find the Virgin Mother of Jesus offering him to the world. As Christians we always considered the birth of Jesus and the motherhood of Mary as mysteries of the Divine Word of God. Here we see baby Jesus, Almighty God revealing Himself to the world as a poor infant in order to conquer our pride. In this baby we will discover the defenselessness of God’s love: God comes to us unarmed, because there is no intent to conquer us externally, but rather to win us and transform us internally and make us sons and daughters unto Him.
The Bible tells us that “He came to His own and they did not receive him, and I am grateful because the light has transcended to us and the way was paved for us to be saved.” Today we remember the manger and we thought of Jesus at birth. Are we very far from that manger because we are too refined and intelligent? Don’t we perhaps live too much closed in on ourselves, in our self-sufficiency, our fears of persecution and pride, until we are no longer able to hear the voices of angels in the night far less to join them in adoring Him?
Beside the crib, the Christmas tree with all the twinkling lights we must be reminded of the precious gift of the tree of life, which blossomed into humanity. The tree that was brought to us from the dark forest is decorated and fills with lights by us for our enjoyment and for the world to see. It has been transformed into a carrier of light that is no longer its own but bears witness of the true light that comes to the world. As David said in the Psalm that man is like a tree planted by the rivers of water and bring forth its fruits in its season. Here we see the crib and the tree as precious symbols of the true meaning of Christmas.
Today, amid a politically correct and consumerist Christmas attitude, we are allowing ourselves to be stripped of our traditions, the oldest and sweetest, the truest and most beautiful, the dearest and most venerable, so that carelessly, through neglect we are abandoning Christ to follow the less futile fad. Christmas runs the risk of losing its true spiritual meaning, reduced to a mere commercial occasion to buy and exchange gifts. What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a Saviour has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists? When it is all over we are left with presents we don’t like and have to return, bigger debts and credit cards that will take months or years to pay off, and then comes the empty feelings of missed understood purpose.
The Government had its share to keep and sustain the economy, and while many may not like what is being done; St. Vincent and the Grenadines economy has stood the Regional test and is on a path for growth in the last quarter of the year. The people will benefit from families in the Diaspora who will send barrels and money to relatives at home and that will be pumped into the economy. The vision of the Government is very visible except to some with other purpose. Free barrels through Customs for the holidays and the promise of adding over 100 persons to the pay roll are sign of the vision. While St. Vincent and the Grenadines is preparing to hire, our neighbour to the east (Barbados) is preparing to lay off three thousand government workers. Grenada’s economy is improving and so is the economy of the United States. The Argyle International Airport will be completed by mid-2014 and be operational in the fourth quarter of the year. Many people have benefited from employment and will continue into the New Year. May I encourage you to keep Christ in Christmas this season and let this season be one of giving and sharing? Remember to love one another as in the old days.
Do not let anything replace the true meaning of Christmas. Let us keep the symbols of our faith, prayer and offering as we rediscover the joy and the solidarity of friendship, the human tenderness of relations and the piety of souls of enchanted children and adults. The Clergy and members of the Mystical Order of Spiritual Baptist Inc. New York, Canada, England and the Caribbean join me to wish the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.