Lift up your heads

Following is an excerpt from the sermon delivered on Sunday by pastor of the Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church, Reverend Joel Cumberbatch, at the 46th anniversary of Independence ecumenical service at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

I wish … as we focus today on Los Barbados – home we love, to encapsulate the sentiments of the Apostle Paul and in an accommodative sense apply them to our country Barbados and to our people who have worked tirelessly over the years to build this nation.

Let me be somewhat presumptuous from the onset in suggesting to you that Barbados too is and can be an interesting hub in the context of the region and the wider world, not only for the spread of the Christian faith through short term and long term evangelistic and missionary endeavours, but for the promotion of goods and services on a global scale, and as we strive to move our country forward toward developed country status.

1. Firstly, consider with me what I am simply calling: Barbados — a lovely country.

I was browsing the net recently and came across a simple but yet profound article titled What makes a country Beautiful? Listen to this interesting scenario painted by the author. Again I quote:

‘Some people believe that what makes a place, a town, or a country beautiful and attractive to the eye is merely the way they look, the beauty of the buildings, Cafes, restaurants, etc. Some others believe that the beauty and the attraction of a place have nothing to do with the buildings, but with the people living in them, with those who whether you want it or not, are always present in any step you take.

‘You enter a beautiful restaurant and the moment you are sitting and enjoying the architecture of it, the waiter comes and without even greeting you, asks you something you don’t understand.

‘Anyway, you pretend to understand him and the next moment he brings you the coffee you ordered and tries to put it on the table in front of you without the nearest sign of respect. And what happens! Half of the coffee falls on the table. You wait at least for a sorry from him, but the moment you raise up your eyes, he is suddenly gone.

‘In silence you take a clean handkerchief out of your bag, and do it yourself.

Trying to put a smile on your face, you think in a second what to say, and then two, three seconds more , and you leave with the thought of never again entering this place.’

That place obviously is not Barbados!

As you ponder for a few seconds on this scenario, and particularly in light our on-going quest for service excellence, may I suggest to you that:

a. Our loveliness, our beauty as a country is not only reflected in our topography, our architecture or even our infrastructure, but in the total life experience we offer those who come to our shores whether for business or pleasure.

We who have the privilege to travel the region would attest to the fact that we have some of the most beautiful and endearing real estate right across the Caribbean, and Barbados naturally is the most beautiful of them all as captured by the Merrymen in that classic, Beautiful Barbados, and as advocated by the tourism practitioners at all levels.

These fields and hills and indeed our coastal waters, must be preserved and effectively utilised for the maximum good of Barbadians and all visitors to our shores.

The reality is however, that after a while the lovely beaches and the rolling hills and deep valley experiences might be forgotten or sought in other destinations. But I suggest to you this evening that those who come among us will never forget that authentic indigenous experience marked by friendliness, the welcoming touch and excellent service and will come again and again.

b. Secondly note that the beauty of our country Barbados is not restricted to our territorial boundaries.

The great English churchman, John Wesley, was quite evolutionary and revolutionary in his perspective as articulated in that famous statement: “The World is my Parish”. Wesley indeed was a visionary and long before the modern systemisation of globalisation and liberalisation, he understood quite well the dictates of the great commission as indicated by Jesus himself:

‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ – Matthew Chp. 28: v. 19 & 20.

As Barbadians we too have a rich tradition of faith and as reflected in the hundreds of churches which dot our landscape, and the rich confidence which exudes from such faith. As Barbadians we must admit that God has been exceptionally good to us.

He has preserved us from national calamities. He has provided for us even in these recessionary times. At the personal level we were sick and he healed us. We were in trouble and he marvellously brought us out.

I wish to use this national occasion to echo the sentiments of the Psalmist as articulated in Psalm 116: v. 12 -14: ‘How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I will fulfill all my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.’

I am indeed proud to be a citizen of this country in which the teaching of Religious Education, prayer and the reading of the Word of God are still a prominent part of school life on a daily basis, where the right to freely meet for worship is guaranteed. I am happy to be a citizen of a country in whose Parliament God is recognised and is a common feature of our civility. I am happy to be a citizen of this country in which on our highways and byways, in our districts and villages, in Broad Street and in Swan Street and other streets as well, the message of the Gospel can still be shared.

I submit to you, fellow Barbadians, that this culture of faith in God has served us well throughout out history and I have no doubt that despite the increased tendency toward humanism and secularism, that Barbadians both at home and abroad still understand the need for God in our personal lives and in the life of this nation…

I need not remind you of our international achievements in the area of entertainment, sports, education, politics etc. I need not remind you that our achievements regionally and internationally have nullified the view that smallness of size is equivalent to worth and capacity and that smallness of size is a disincentive to achieving greatness.

Let me remind you in this regard of the thinking and the perspectives of some of our national Icons:

The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, National Hero of Barbados, challenged us in that famous “Mirror image speech” to guard our self worth and dignity, and to assert our right to self determination as a people. He also reminded us that we must not for one moment believe that our contribution in the global arena is not a significant one because we may not have the physical and natural resources and concomitantly, the economic prowess, that other developed countries may have.

Today we continue to be a proud people and to guard our democratic traditions, which have been an essential part of our culture, with our Parliament being one of the oldest symbols of this undertaking in the Western Hemisphere.

[Today], we have no reason to be ashamed! We can continue to hold our heads high as proud Barbadians!

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