Maundy Thursday and Good Friday reflections on Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
There’s an interesting parade of people throughout Matthew’s account of the last supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Everyone, whether individually or as a group, display a wide range of behaviours and reactions.
- Jesus’ disciples, notably Judas Iscariot, Peter, James and John, who waver between faithfulness and fear.
- There are the religious and civil authorities who try to discredit Jesus, desperately seeking out false witnesses and questioning Jesus’ authority.
- The two convicted robbers who are crucified alongside Jesus, join in the mockery.
- Charged with enforcing the decision of Pontius Pilate, the derisive soldiers and centurions play between mockery and belief.
- In contrast, there are weeping women and Simon of Cyrene who show compassion to Jesus amid a boisterous, mocking crowd of people, some of whom were waving palms in adoration and praise of Jesus just a few days before.
I believe that the need to be right was at the root of all these reactions.
Being right is based on our understanding of what we believe to be true.
During Lent, Christians spend much time reflecting on the ways to deepen their understanding of God’s truth to support our quest to live and thrive in a right relationship with God.
Seeking the truth and the desire to be right very often means we must release beliefs that don’t serve us. Releasing can involve resistance or surrender, or both.
Resistance to declaring the truth we already know, is based on the fear of the consequences of integrity.
- Peter knew who Jesus was and vowed to never deny his association with Jesus. When confronted with making the choice to associate with Jesus in His most unpopular hour, Peter let fear conquer his conviction. He would later regret this, but courageously reclaimed and proclaimed the truth about his identity as Jesus’ disciple.
- Pontius Pilate, despite all the evidence, condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion. His decision was based purely on public opinion. Public opinion can be shaped by loud misguided voices that are devoid of truth and integrity. Leading with integrity requires an unwavering commitment to the truth. Pilate knew this. He had the courage to declare his own truth but feared the consequences. He saw that he was getting nowhere, but rather that a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands [to ceremonially cleanse himself of guilt] in the presence of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this [righteous] Man’s blood; see to that”
Surrendering on the other hand, very often leads us to the truth we are seeking. It is hard, because it is the way of faith and accepting the Wisdom of uncertainty.
Surrendering requires us to change our perspective on the circumstances in our lives. Rather than resisting adversity, we are better off embracing it with a deepened desire to know the truth about ourselves and to understand God’s will.
Amid the chaos of shouting crowds, Judas’ suicide, Jesus’ death, and an earthquake, there was a group of women who looked on from a distance and stayed by Jesus’ grave, not knowing what was going to happen next.
Being faithful in the face of uncertainty, led to the revelation of the fulness of the truth that Jesus taught them. He had to die for our sins and then rise in proof that He is the Son of God and Savior of the world.
- The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said [He would]. Come! See the place where He was lying. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee [as He promised]. There you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
The act of surrendering to God’s will not only benefits us as individuals but may also influence the lives of other people.
By surrendering to God’s will, Jesus’ death and resurrection gave credibility to everything Jesus taught and to the way He lived and died. Even though none of Jesus’ detractors liked his teachings, many of them were converted and accepted the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
- The centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
I really believe that our life here on earth is a journey of constant learning. We evolve to our highest level of spiritual awareness and understanding when we commit to understand God’s truth for us and for all humankind. Add Bible study, prayer and meditation to your daily routine.
Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters!
Almighty God, from the dust of the earth You have created us.
May these ashes be for us a sign of our mortality and our penitence
And a reminder that only by Your gracious gift
Are we given eternal life
Through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
Accomplish in us O God,
The work of Your salvation
That we may show forth Your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of Your Son, our Lord,
Bring us with all Your saints to the joy of His resurrection.
Christ in us, the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters.
The Lord is my Shepherd
I establish the teachings of Jesus Christ as the guiding principles in my daily life. There is a lot of material and resources on spirituality, self-help, professional and personal success. This is all good. By declaring that the Lord is my shepherd, whatever I take from this material should enrich my understanding of Jesus’ teachings.
I shall not want
I have everything that I need. There is no lack or limitation in the Universe. There is enough for everyone and more to share with others. With the Lord as my shepherd, I live abundantly – knowing that I am protected, supported, guided and fulfilled in every way. I know this to be true for me and for other people too. Therefore, there is no place for jealousy, greed or comparison with other people. I gratefully receive and I joyfully give.
He lets me lie down in green pastures
Meditation and deep reflection on Jesus’ teachings are critically important for daily living. This is my daily commitment.
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters
Whenever God’s will is revealed to me, I am at peace. But allowing God’s will to be revealed requires me to be still and to wait patiently through the daily practice of prayer and meditation.
He refreshes and restores my soul.
Through honest admission to God, I acknowledge my failures, hurts and unforgiveness. This is how I leave myself open to receive His loving restoration of my soul to the peace and love that were instilled in me when God created me. My life is better, and I am at peace when I choose the way of love. This is because God enables me to forgive, to heal, to start again. In this way I am focused on my highest good and the highest good of others.
He leads me to the path of righteousness for His Name sake
Through restoration, I understand that I have a responsibility to maintain a right relationship with God. I surrender to His guidance and direction in my daily life. My right relationship with Him is evident in my relationships with other people and in my respect for all of God’s creation. God is glorified. In all I do, I am a witness to God’s goodness working through me.
Even though I walk through the (sunless) valley of the shadow of death
I cannot fool myself into believing that I will not encounter any difficulties in life. There are times when it seems as though God is silent and is not listening to me. Or, is it that I am not listening to God? Could it be possible that I, on my own, have chosen to walk away from the path of righteousness and I have ended up in a dark place, outside of the will of God?
I will fear no evil for You are with me
Wherever I am, and however I got there, the Lord is still my Shepherd. I go back to prayer and meditation where I find His peace that passes all understanding. I affirm that I am in the serene presence of God. I release fear and anxiety and surrender to the Wisdom of uncertainty as I walk in the dark. I know for sure that the valley is a shadowy place, so there must be Light close by.
Your rod (to protect) and your staff (to guide), they comfort and console me.
I am reminded that throughout the Bible, the rod is used as a metaphor for guidance and protection. This protection is not only from the harm that others may do to me. The rod of protection is also meant to keep me on God’s path of righteousness, in a right relationship with Him. If I am corrected through karma, or through the justified criticism of someone else, I am comforted by the thought that this experience is God’s way of leading me to my highest good.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
In every negative experience, there is a lesson and a blessing. I direct my energy towards putting my lessons into practice, so I have no desire or time for revenge towards my enemies. This is how I attract my good to me and to all things concerning me. My enemies may notice this and maybe they are blessed too! Alleluia!
Surely goodness and mercy an unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life
I am convinced that everything I experience in life, leads me to my highest good, which is God’s unfailing love. With the Lord as my Shepherd, all things work together for my good – disappointments, joy, failure, success, lack, prosperity. I make a commitment to stand in faith and with courage in all circumstances. Therefore, I seek God’s guidance to take me through and to let me understand all that I need to know, to be and to do.
And I will dwell forever (throughout my days) in the House and in the presence of the Lord.
Because God dwells within me, I will consciously honor His presence in my life for as long as I live. This is my daily mantra: I am in the serene presence of God. All is well.
Christ in me is the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters.
Every human being is created by God. God is the common bond of all humanity. We are members of the human family. We are all loved by God. Are we aware that God loves the beggar, the criminal, the disabled, the social outcasts as much as He loves us? How do we honour God in the way we treat other people? Do we focus more on differences than on the common bond of Divine Love that makes us all children of our Divine Father?
Who is in Heaven
We know that God is omnipresent. He is here on earth, with us and within us. He is also in Heaven and everywhere in the Universe. By declaring that He lives in Heaven, we affirm that God occupies a supreme position in the Universe that transcends the physical realm of the Earth we live in.
Hallowed be your name.
To hallow is to declare holy and to revere. When we revere God, we declare our love and adoration for Him. Our Lord asks us to revere God, to love Him because He wants to be loved. By revering God, we enter an intimate relationship with God. We have a personal relationship with God. It’s what God wants.
Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.
The Kingdom of God refers to the spiritual reign and authority of God throughout the Universe. We acknowledge that God’s authority and reign prevail through His will, which is always for our highest good. We ask for God’s will to be established here on earth, through people who understand the principles of the Kingdom of God. May love, peace, harmony and justice prevail on earth as in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
We express our awareness of the material needs of all mankind. We acknowledge that there is poverty and suffering. We join with all people praying for our needs and theirs to be met.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
We recognize our own limitations and shortcomings and ask God to forgive us. When we experience the joy and freedom that comes from forgiveness, we desire the same for those who have wronged us. We release them from our anger or desire for revenge through our forgiveness.
Save us from the time of trial
We ask for mercy and grace to face the challenges of daily living. God’s saving grace and mercy enable us to stand in God’s strength so that we preserve our integrity as followers of His Kingdom principles.
Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever
God will prevail in all circumstances and He will never fail us. We end our prayer where we started – with adoration and praise for God’s supremacy for all eternity. We are comforted knowing that God will never change. He truly is to be glorified!
Christ in us, the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters!
Sermon presented in 2012 at the Anglican Parish of St. Andrew and St. Mark, Dorval, now the Parish of the Resurrection, St. Andrew and St. Mark.
Heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight. Amen.
Today’s Old Testament reading provides valuable lessons on how we receive God’s grace and blessings when we are prepared to reverse commonly held beliefs about people who are different – in race, social status and occupation. The account of Naaman’s healing also gives a voice to the marginalized and shows how, as St. Paul says to the Corinthian Christians, “God has chosen the things which the world regards as destitute of influence, in order to put its powerful things to shame.” (1 Cor 1:27 Weymouth New Testament version)
These lessons are particularly relevant during Black History Month, a time when an appeal is made to read the “missing pages” of history of people of Black African descent, a people who have endured centuries of material oppression and political marginalisation, and call to all of us to celebrate the contribution of Black people to the world.
The account of Naaman’s healing teaches us many things –
We’re all vulnerable – regardless of our social standing
We are told in verse 1 that Naaman is a great man, respected by many, including the King of Syria, his boss. This respect is based on his status as the captain of the victorious army of Syria. But, we are told, and this is a big ‘but’, that he has leprosy – a disease that relegates people in Biblical times to ‘outcast’ status. Therefore, we learn that in spite of Naaman’s social status, his illness in the form of leprosy is a reminder that regardless of our station in life, human beings are all vulnerable and flawed in some way, and in need of divine intervention.
Solutions can come from unlikely sources
Then in verse 2, the solution comes from an unlikely and seemingly ‘weak’ source – an enslaved Israelite girl who was captured by Naaman’s army and is assigned to serve Naaman’s wife. We are led to believe that the slave girl doesn’t hate those who captured her. Driven by a courageous faith in God, she seeks a way for God to be glorified in her oppressive situation. By declaring that Naaman can be healed through a prophet in Samaria in the land of Israel, she offers the possibility for the oppressor and the oppressed to worship and serve the same God.
We can jeopardize the flow of God’s blessing by observing socially accepted beliefs and practices
Then in the ensuing verses, we see how several factors come into play that potentially jeopardize the flow of God’s blessing to Naaman. Social barriers, the effect of political oppression, ethno-centric biases and distorted human beliefs about the knowledge and wisdom of people classed as being of “low social standing” all come into play.
- The social order of that time prevents people from directly addressing other people of different rank. God’s inspired message to the young slave girl about how Naaman could be healed is first spoken by the slave to her mistress who is Naaman’s wife. Naaman’s wife then speaks to Naaman, who then speaks to his boss, the King of Syria. The King of Syria then writes a letter to the King of Israel – the country where the healing prophet resides. We note that in the letter, the Syrian king requests not the prophet, but the King of Israel, to heal Naaman. The expected healing by divine intervention of the prophet as told by the slave is therefore lost in the maze of ‘respectful rules of communication’, social ranks and political correctness.
- So we see that Naaman and the King of Syria are willing to accept the solution to Naaman’s problem, but only through the intervention of people of high social standing and rank. In exchange for Naaman’s healing is the offer of material gifts of significant value: 10 talents of silver, 6,000 shekels of gold and 10 changes of clothes. We learn that openness to the grace and healing blessing of God can be marred by the power and influence of material things that entice and induce the physical senses. At this point, the offer of divine intervention is almost lost.
- We note in verses 6 and 7 that the King of Israel reacts with suspicion and outrage to the King of Syria’s letter and Naaman’s presence in his court. How could the king and captain of the dominant nation of Syria that plundered Israel now turn to Israel for help? The King of Israel is suspicious, outraged and anguished. He tears his clothes – an act declaring his grief and mourning as he perceives that the leaders of the oppressive nation of Syria are again attempting to assert their power over his nation. The King of Israel’s reaction shows us how military and political oppression by one nation and race dominating another not only cause suspicion, hostility and poor communication among nations, but it also has adverse psychological effects on the people of the oppressed nation or race.
The faithfulness of God’s people is crucial for His will to be done on earth
BUT in spite of it all, it is the faithfulness of God’s people – the slave girl and the persistence of the prophet Elisha that predominate. Elisha’s faithfulness to God prompts him to speak up when he hears of Naaman’s need and the anguish of the King of Israel. So Elisha summons Naaman and invites him to “see that there is a prophet in Israel” – physical healing as well as divine revelation are offered. We’re reminded that God’s people must not, as St. Paul says to the Galatian Christians, “grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap” (Gal.6 v 9). We, like Elisha, must persist in being conduits of God’s goodness and healing, even to those who are in a position to dominate and exploit.
But Naaman persists with his belief about his social standing and expects to be treated with ‘honour’ by the prophet Elisha. He is disappointed that he is not invited into Elisha’s house. To make matters worse, Naaman is appalled that it is Elisha’s servants who give the healing message instead Elisha himself.
It gets even worse when Naaman’s ethno-centric biased belief emerges. In an angry rage, he questions whether the river of Jordan, which is in the land of the Israelites – the nation the Syrian army plundered, could be better than the rivers of Damascus in the land of Syria. This is not dissimilar to the disdainful comments often heard today about the qualifications of people and products coming from the so-called “Third World” countries.
We all need to face our own beliefs in order to accept the Truth of God
BUT in the midst of Naaman’s rage, Naaman has an epiphany, a moment of truth when he confronts not only the truth about his own distorted beliefs, but the truth of God’s unrelenting desire to heal him and make him whole. This moment is made possible from an unlikely source – Naaman’s own servants. His servants point out his biases and beliefs about social status, saying that had the prophet spoken directly to Naaman, Naaman would have accepted the same message that the prophet’s servants gave in regard to his healing.
Desiring to overcome his own biases and prejudices, Naaman puts his ego aside and follows through on the instructions from Elisha’s servants. He dips seven times in the Jordan River and is healed – so much so that his skin is like that of a little child. WOW! A physical and spiritual rebirth occurs when Naaman embraces God’s grace and healing power. This happens only after he is prepared to disband his beliefs about social status and human power, to release his ethno-centric bias and to submit to the advice and wisdom of persons of lower rank, who admittedly are God’s chosen conduits.
Seek spiritual revelation first
Naaman, now forever grateful for God’s healing grace, commits himself to serve the God of Israel. Naaman steps into another realm of spiritual revelation. God is real. God is good. God is powerful. God’s power works through the oppressed, those of lesser rank, the marginalized to heal him, a man of military might and power. Naaman now has a testimony and he appreciates those who have led him to his physical healing and spiritual revelation.
Blessings come from unlikely sources
But then, he offers a gift to Elisha the prophet. Elisha refuses, because he sees himself only as a conduit of God’s grace to Naaman. I wonder, is the desire to give a gift an act of “noblesse oblige,” a remnant of Naaman’s old beliefs about status and power? I don’t quite know. But I certainly am reminded that our richest blessings very often come from people who we perceive to be in a disadvantaged position. Some of the most materially disadvantaged and oppressed people in this world are far more spiritually rich than many of us and will give the best of what they have, with the expectation of nothing in return.
Black History Month
There are many truths that emerge from the account of Naaman’s healing that are cause for reflection and action, particularly during Black History Month.
There is a parallel between the account of Naaman’s healing and the history of Black people in the Caribbean and North America. The story of Naaman occurs against the backdrop of the dominance of Syria over Israel, the taking of slaves and a rigid social and class structure that emerged. This is quite similar to the conquest and plundering of the African continent by European countries beginning in the mid-15th century in their quest for economic and political dominance. What ensued from this was four centuries of capture, brutalization and marginalisation of an estimated 12 million Black Africans who were transported and enslaved in the European colonies in the Caribbean and also in the United States of America and yes, slavery, even here in Canada.
We see in the account of Naaman’s healing, that it is the marginalized – the slave girl and people of lower social rank – the servants of Naaman and Elisha, and even Elisha himself – who are instrumental in bringing about Naaman’s healing and transformation. We don’t know the names of the slave girl or the servants, but we do know that the quality of Naaman’s life improved because of the role played by these persons of lesser rank. Similarly, people of Black African descent in the Caribbean and North America have made spectacular contributions to the improvement of the quality of life of European nations and to their descendants in North America and the Caribbean. But as in the Biblical text, their names are not frequently mentioned nor is their contribution given the level of deserved recognition and credit in mainstream history books.
This leads us to the reason why there is the need for Black History Month and the creation of important initiatives such as the “Missing Pages” project here in Québec, Canada.
Black History Month has its roots in ‘Negro History Week’ that was declared in February 1926 by Dr. Carter Woodson, a Black American graduate of Harvard University. Dr. Woodson saw the need for the methodical study of the life of African Americans and their history. Negro History Week has evolved to become Black History Month and is an observance of the history of descendants of Black African slaves in a number of countries outside of Africa.
The “Missing Pages” project has its genesis in a request by a class of young secondary school students who were studying Black history at the Da Costa Hall summer school in July 1993. These eager students of Mrs. Junia Wilson questioned the general absence of Blacks from the school textbooks. Personnel from the Ministère de l’éducation heard the complaints of these young Black students, recognized the need and acted to introduce the relevant materials found in “Some Missing Pages.” Again, it is those who are marginalized who speak up and offer a solution.
Black people in the Bible
Euro-centric interpretations of the Bible have generally failed to acknowledge the presence and role of Black people in the Bible. In the same way that we gain an understanding of the role of the young slave girl in bringing God’s word of healing to Naaman, so too must the Church gain an understanding of Black personalities in the Bible and to fully acknowledge their contribution to the spreading of the good news.
This turns me now to the account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, an unnamed Black man in Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 8:26-39) We are told that the angel of the Lord speaks to the apostle Philip, telling him to go to Gaza. In obedience, Philip goes to Gaza and there he meets the Black Ethiopian man, who has great authority under Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians. He is in charge of all of the Queen’s treasure, and he came to Jerusalem to worship and on his return journey, he is sitting in his chariot reading the Bible. Philip is directed by the Holy Spirit to speak to the Ethiopian.
We learn that this Black Ethiopian is an important government official – a man of high rank and respect. We also see that he loves reading God’s Word. We see how God brings these two men together. From a social class viewpoint, Philip was from a position of lower rank and the Ethiopian was an important government official. Racially, Philip was Greek and the eunuch was African. Now get this – neither man saw these distinctions in each other. They focused on their common quest to know God. Together, both men, rich and poor, White and Black, share the good news of God’s message. God then uses Philip to lead the eunuch into an encounter with Christ, he is converted and baptized promptly. We can only imagine the large number of Ethiopians who heard the gospel message and were converted, because of this one man’s testimony.
As in the account of Naaman’s healing, we learn from the story of the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion, that the revelation of God’s truth is accepted when barriers of social status, ethno-centric biases and distinctions are dropped, as in the case of Naaman or are absent, as in the case of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The way to the truth is complicated for Naaman but straightforward and easy for the Ethiopian eunuch. Black History Month offers us the opportunity to step out of the ignorance of the history of Black people and accept the truths about their contribution to our world and our Church.
Contribution of Black people
Some of the many machines and devices we use on a daily basis were invented by Black people during the nineteenth century, a time when Black people were largely regarded as inferior and incapable of being educated. The air conditioning unit, the stove, typewriter, thermostat control, stethoscope, radiator, small pox vaccine, the lawn mower, railway air brakes, the golf tee, cellular phones are just a few inventions that came from people of Black African descent. Ref: http://www.blackinventions101.com/inventionslist.html
Here in Canada, Elijah McCoy, “The real McCoy”, invented a number of devices to lubricate locomotive engines. Mary Ann Shadd was the first Black female attorney in North America and first woman publisher in Canada. Charles Drew attended McGill University medical school in where he graduated with honors. He pioneered blood transfusions and established the Red Cross Blood Bank.
Like Naaman’s slave girl, his servants, Elisha and his servants, Black Canadian soldiers in World Wars 1 and 2 looked beyond their own oppressive conditions of racial segregation, injustice and marginalization, to fight for this country and the world in the quest for justice and the greater good of all, including their oppressors here in Canada.
The Anglican Church and Black people
There was a time when Anglican Church – clergy and lay people, like Naaman and the King of Syria upheld and perpetuated discriminatory beliefs about social status and ethno-centric superiority. The Anglican planter class in the USA and in the colonies of the West Indies refused to have their slaves baptized as this would make Black people spiritually ‘equal’ to White people. We know that the Anglican Church was part of the oppressive colonial government institutions and made no attempt prior to the early to mid-19th century to declare their abhorrence of slavery and racial discrimination. Here in Canada, we learn that Black Anglicans were relegated to their own congregations and lay-readers in the 19th century were only permitted to read the Bible and lead prayers under restrictive conditions. A case in point is Joseph Leonard, a Black Anglican lay-reader in the Brindley Town settlement in Nova Scotia, who inspired by God, went way beyond those restrictive conditions and was flatly refused permission by Bishop Inglis to be ordained a minister.
It is the persistence of evangelical missionaries – the Quakers, Baptists, Methodists and other denominations that were not highly regarded at the time, as well as the persistent faith of marginalized Black Christians – that shook the conscience of the “established” Anglican Church in the early to mid-19th century. This led to a reversal in the Anglican Church’s position on slavery and the offer in 2006, of a formal, unequivocal apology for the role it played in the slave trade and slavery. Like Naaman, the Anglican Church has had its epiphany – its moment of truth when the voices of people, considered to be of low social and religious status, were heeded and this led to a new revelation and era for the Anglican Church.
Today, Anglican Churches in the Caribbean integrate local, afro-centric cultural elements in the liturgy. Many educational institutions under the aegis of the Anglican Church turn out scholars and citizens who continue to make a sterling contribution to their communities in the West Indies and in North America. In the Anglican Church in Canada, people of Black African descent comprise a significant percentage of many congregations. They play an active role in the life of the Church and in advancing its work at home and abroad.
I am the daughter of forefathers and foremothers who endured the harsh conditions of the Atlantic slave trade, who suffered the lashes of the whips of slave masters in the pelting heat of the sun on the sugar plantations in Jamaica and who later lived under oppressive and limiting social and economic conditions of post-emancipation colonialism.
I was born in a vastly different world from that of my enslaved fore parents and of own my parents. I was born right after Jamaica became independent from Great Britain. I won’t deny that I grew up learning that to succeed in a British-based education system required political correctness, British cultural adaptations and the stifling of Jamaican cultural expressions in certain contexts. Thankfully, much of that has changed since I was a child. I have benefited tremendously from the best quality educational and professional opportunities that Jamaica has to offer. Interestingly, this has been recognized by the Government of Canada, which continues to quietly recruit professionals like myself to live and work in this country.
Like any other person of Black African descent coming from what many Canadians refer to as a “Third World” country, I have been stereotyped and insulted by racist co-workers, government officials and people with ethno-centric biases. And this, in spite of all I have achieved and contributed to this country. Even with the concerted efforts to make this great country a model of inclusion and multi-culturalism, racism is still a problem in Canada.
HOWEVER, I choose today to pay far more attention to the deep pride, appreciation and gratitude I have as I stand before you here today.
- Pride and appreciation for my forefathers and foremothers whose faith in God inspired their endurance and gave them the hope that succeeding generations would have a better life;
- I am grateful that live in an era where the history of Black people is now written truthfully and spoken about openly;
- I deeply appreciate the limitless opportunities I have in this great, free and fair country, Canada, which has given me my beloved Canadian family, who have opened their arms and folded me in their loving embrace;
- Most of all, I express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to God, whose promise to Abraham “to be the father of many nations” is now a reality. This promise is also a promise of inclusion, that all people of all nations, races and social rank can be united as one universal family under a gracious, loving Father God.
As a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual congregation, may these reflections cause us to rejoice in our diversity and renew our commitment to make inclusion our reality here and in the world.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak this morning. May God bless you all!
Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters.
As we start 2019, many of us will set goals and make resolutions in the hope that our lives will be better. I wish everyone the joy and satisfaction that comes from the fulfillment of personal and professional goals.
As you set your goals and make resolutions for the New Year, I would like to suggest a few points to bear in mind –
- Some goals may have been achieved, but not in the expected form.
Sometimes the trappings of success can become a distraction, causing us to pursue status symbols as proof that goals have been achieved. You may not have the coveted job title or corner office, but you may have already fulfilled the mandate in your current role. If this is true for you, it may be the right time to move forward, to set new goals to take you to the next level of effort that will challenge you to be your best self.
- It’s good to set goals, but even better to leave them open-ended.
It is necessary to set measurable goals to track progress, but be prepared to adjust goals to take advantage of new and better opportunities. Sometimes goals can be limiting your true ability to go further. Paying attention to your situation as it unfolds can provide valuable information. Perhaps a layoff that disrupts a career goal may just be the push you need to step outside your comfort zone and launch your own business.
- Align your goals with your values.
Avoid the trap of striving for a goal that leaves you feeling unfulfilled. Very often, the sacrifices and compromises that are made to achieve goals undermine our values. For example, striving for success in an organization that doesn’t respect the value you place on your down time isn’t worth the effort.
I truly hope that you will have fun and enjoy the journey through 2019. Have a great year!