Happy Christmas Barbadians,
I thank you for allowing me to address you in your homes on this most special day.
Christmas is that wonderful time of the year when many of us, whether practicing Christians or adherents to other faiths, come together with family and friends in a spirit of reflection, renewal, sharing and celebration.
We celebrate the birth of Christ because the message of his coming is about the essence of life – the birth of a child, life at its most vulnerable. It symbolises peace, goodwill, generosity and loving kindness. This eternal message of light surmounting darkness and hope conquering adversity inspires us to face the overwhelming burdens of our daily living.
The high point of the year for us was the celebration of our country’s 50th anniversary of Independence. Just like Christmas, it caused us to reflect. One served to reinforce what it means to be Barbadian and the other what it is to live a life that is purposeful, compassionate and charitable – a life that is characterized by service.
I am deeply aware that many of us are finding it difficult to enjoy this year’s Christmas commemoration in the traditional way that we have been accustomed to so doing. For some the challenges may be personal in our ability to cope. For others, there is a deep anxiety caused by what appears so evident daily as we travel around our communities and our country.
As desperate as our situation may seem, let us not allow this to detract from the magical spirit of Christmas with its message of hope and joy.
I encourage each of you, too, to emulate the values of the Christ child. Last year the Roman Catholic Bishop Jason Gordon of Bridgetown preached a sermon at Midnight Mass which moved me. I listened to it again this week. . In this sermon, he asked the question: where is the real power?
Bishop Jason reflected that this was the question that Christmas was really asking us. it was in our vulnerability, humility, lowliness and service. It was not with those who have might. He then asked if the real power is there, why are we afraid to do the right thing and to stand up for what we believe – to be afraid of what people will say and to stand up for true. And I quote him, “The truth is never convenient BUT it is always the way to Christ. How are we going to live – and what is this Christ child going to be to us?” For it is free will that God has given us. God has given us the right to make choices.
In accordance with this understanding of what is the real power, I ask each of you to embrace the less fortunate among us and to pay attention to those who need care and support. Our senior citizens, those differently able, victims of abuse, and the growing numbers affected by chronic diseases need our attention. But above all else, we must nurture and guide our children. The true humanity of a caring society is not how powerful or wealthy it is but rather how it treats and uplifts its most vulnerable citizens. For in a small society like ours, where there is more that binds us than divides us, this is the only way we can progress. Our Covenant of Hope which we launched this year is built upon these values.
Fellow Barbadians, as the New Year approaches let us therefore answer the real question of Christmas in our words, actions AND Interactions with each other. For that is the only way we can get Barbados working again for all Barbadians.
Today, as we celebrate that miraculous moment in humanity more than 2,000 years ago as we wish each other well and share gifts, let us also look forward to 2017 with renewed determination and the confidence that is ignited by the spirit of Christmas.
On behalf of the Barbados Labour Party and on behalf of my own family, let me wish you once again a Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year!