Always a reason to celebrate
Christmas message by Bishop Joseph J.S. Atherley, Leader of the Opposition
“Fellow Barbadians, this Christmas of 2020 is likely to be one the likes of which none of us has experienced before. There is the all-too-real economic and financial hardship that the majority of us, at both the level of the household and that of business, are struggling through.message by Bishop Joseph J.S.
“There are the health risks engendered by the COVID presence to which all of us are vulnerable and exposed. There are the protocols and prohibitions associated with our efforts to contain the spread of that virus, which significantly and severely curtail our usual forms of and activities in celebration of this season.
“This may prove particularly challenging for our young children and our elderly. For others there may be a bit of a damper on what we call the Spirit of Christmas.
“I wish today to take this opportunity to encourage an appreciation of the reality, that however undesirable the circumstances of any moment or period might be, there is always a reason to celebrate. I urge you to identify your cause for celebration despite your own personal challenges.
“Perhaps it’s family; perhaps it’s friendship. It may be for you the freedom we enjoy as a people; perhaps it’s our countless blessings as a nation – free educational opportunity, good health care, stable government, the beauty of our landscape, reliable and respectful neighbours, your latest gift or most recent accomplishment, your near next birthday, that opportunity which you know now is coming.
“My own view is that at Christmas the thing we celebrate most is the birth of the Christ Child and ultimately the hope it brings.
“There are some significant precepts entailed in the event of the Christ birth. I would wish to cite a few and to encourage the requisite attitude and action on our part.
“First, I would suggest that just as He as God became man and dwelt among us, we need to step away from our accomplished stations, our settled circumstance, our positions of comfort, to serve the cause and needs of others. Bear in mind that stepping away may sometimes involve stepping down, to meet people where they are, at their point of need. The fact is that, no matter your own challenges, there are always those who are moreso in need.
“Secondly, I share with you the view, that the circumstances of your birth and/or upbringing do not preclude your capacity to contribute to our growth and development as a nation. You can make a contribution, those circumstances notwithstanding, either at home or abroad.
“Can’t one on the way to the rank of Brigadier General get there via the route of a St Giles Boys School experience and a Martindale’s Road environment? Does not the innovation of Alan Emtage bear testimony to that? Can’t the people of St Michael West be profoundly proud of and inspired by the achievement of Dr Velma Scantlebury, celebrated kidney transplant specialist? Is that not the message of the Rihanna success?
“Does the Sobers’ story not tell us that Knights can come out of Bay Land and help to put Barbados on the map?
“Our system of education, our general human development index, our democratic traditions, our institutional development, the pride and industry of our spirit, all serve to offer a path from obscurity to opportunity for self-improvement and service to our community and country.
“The birth event of Jesus took place at a time of high anxiety for the people of Jewish Palestine. There was imperial oppression by the Romans. It was a period of increasing taxation in a context of very minimal family earnings, distressing disparity between the privileged and the poor. A time of growing ethnic tensions with neighbouring regions. The period is figuratively defined as a period of darkness into which the Light of Christ came.
“Hence I suggest that no matter how dark your today’s moment, tomorrow’s mornings hold forth better promise. The promise of better health, the promise of better relationship, the promise of better opportunity, the promise of a better position, the promise of a better day.
“The manger and cattle stall where this infant Jesus was laid represented the start of a journey, not its completion. I do not know what circumstances represent where you are at this point in your life. What I do know is that it may very well be the start point of a new enterprising and rewarding journey for you.
“So I urge you to look upward, look forward, to step outward and, as you do, take each step in the celebratory spirit of this Christmas season. If you do, joy, peace and good well-being will attend you.
“Friends, I want to wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas. I do so on behalf of the Parliamentary Opposition: Senators Franklyn, Drakes and myself, the PdP family, my own family. Be safe, be smart, be neighbourly, be brotherly.
“The best expression of wisdom in your Christmas celebration though, would be that you let Christ be born in you.
“Happy Holidays. Blessings.” (PR)