Christmas Message from Bishop Berkley

Christmas Message from The Right Reverend Bishop Claude Berkley

Brothers and Sisters,

The celebration of Christmas is a sign. It is the commemoration of a prophetic fulfillment: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” That is to say, God with us! Yet in spite of many signs of God’s presence, humanity often resorts to the Israelite question, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Yes! The Lord is present with us, that is what our celebration of joy, hope, faith, peace, light and life is all about. Yes! The Lord is keeping faith with us, are we recognizing it? What are some of the intervening issues?

Internationally, Brexit, the US elections, Aleppo, European migrant crisis, terrorist activism, Zika, volatile oil prices, climate change challenges and more, dominated humanitarian and other blessings which indicated God’s presence and action in the world. We might consider that things could always have been worse but for God’s sustaining grace.

Locally, there has been a significant share of anxiety and concern, enough to raise the question of the Lord’s presence among us. One might consider the runaway murder rate, along with the contracted state of the economy as two urgent and major issues. Additionally, there are the social ills of domestic violence and child abuse in a seemingly relentless attack on women and children.  Further, the trepidation about safety and security remain a pressing concern for all citizens.

The recent death of the youthful Shannon (RIP) in the heart of the capital city makes a damaging statement about the dangerous nature of the city and a certain impotence in promoting the safety indicators required for all citizens. When the collection plate in the church becomes an open target and disrespect and disregard for the sacred and for office, become commonplace, then we are recording new lows in civility and spirituality. A striking condition, which is fast gaining visibility, is the display of lip service without commitment, duplicity and flattery even in the Name of the Lord in his Holy Church.

Let me hasten to say that none of this is new. Such turbulence has plagued humanity from the beginning and has caused commensurate anxiety and confusion over time. So that, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” [Gal. 4:4-5] And that is the big thing about Christmas; it is about God’s decisive action on our behalf. Christmas is our celebration of God’s time and action for us, to prevent our complete and final demise at the hands of chaos, evil and organized opposition to Him. So celebrate by responding as a sign of God’s redemptive gift by pursuing vigorously what is right, what is good and what is just.  Moreover, be the sign that points others to godliness, good citizenship and fellowship and strengthen the transformation process that we sorely need.

On behalf of the Anglican Church, I wish to extend sincere Christmas greetings to all across our nation. In our time of prayer, we must pray for our Nation’s leaders in government and opposition, in institutions including the home and the church, in our judicial system, in our prisons and for those who are differently abled, and all in any form of privation. Moreover, we must pray that all who are able and have means, would move forward conscientiously in pursuit of the greater good and the bigger picture for us as a nation under God’s rule. A Happy and Holy Christmastide to everyone!

+Claude Trinidad and Tobago.