A timely reprint on this day of national importance
|And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” Had Christ, in the flesh, dropped in to celebrate with the nation on Sunday at the Independence Church Service, He could very well have asked of us these words He once said to His disciple.|
Not to say there was nobody watching and praying, for, indeed, the usual faithful were accounted for. Still, given the fact that it was a celebration of youth, one would have thought that a greater number of youth organizations would have been represented. One would have expected the parents of the youngsters present to have been out in their numbers. But the expectation was greatest, in this, Antigua & Barbuda’s hour of economic and political Gethsemane, that the church would have been crammed with those who love this nation and long for better times.
Certainly, private prayer has its place, and we are certain that the name of Antigua & Barbuda is lifted up every day in the closets and secret places of those whose God is the Lord. But since we have made a habit of making our complaints and dissatisfactions with the state of the nation – whether its finances, civics, politics, or youth-on-youth crime – so public, was it not reasonable to assume that we would have taken the opportunity, as a nation, to publicly put our plight before the One who can actually do something about it?
It is amazing the number of people who will ask politicians for help on a daily basis; and they are out-numbered only by those to whom it wouldn’t occur to go before God on an annual basis. These people cannot see the link, never make the connection, between what we receive and from whom, ultimately, we have received it. To them, it is the politician who has provided daily bread, a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and a job to go to five days a week. Even more amazing are those who will tell you that they pray for one party to be kept in, or the other to be kept out, yet who, either way, see no need to turn back and give thanks for answered prayers.
But apart from the politics and the bread-and-butter issues, Antigua & Barbuda ought, rightly, to have turned out to the church service this year when the nation remembers Haiti and says, “There, but for the grace of God ….”
We may have felt a tremor here and there since last Independence, but they scarcely rattled us. The nation ought to have remembered that Hurricane Earl came and went, and while it left us wet and a little bedraggled, only a single life was lost – and not even directly. Flood waters swept over us a little more than a month ago; yet, the worst that happened is that some crops were lost and more potholes found. And, unlike this time one year ago, women can both go into and come out of their houses without fear of the dreaded serial rapist. …
These are things for which the nation ought gladly to have come together and given praise. A few years ago, in the early years of this administration, there would have been standing room only in church. What has happened in so short a time that we can afford to take God for granted? Have we forgotten already from where the Lord brought us? Or are we just like the Israelites who, preferring slavery with bread over heavenly manna, looked back with longing toward Egypt?
No doubt there are those who will answer that things aren’t working out the way they anticipated. Is God to be blamed for that? Or is God to be sought in order to help us correct the ways in which we have gone wrong; to find the direction in which we should go? This is not the West Indies Cricket Team that we can support when there are runs like rain and pillory when every player walks onto the field with butter-fingers. This is the nation of Antigua & Barbuda. Our country. Support is not optional and prayer and praise not a sometime thing. …
As we stand on the threshold of not only our 29th year of Independence – a mere one year away from what is undoubtedly adulthood – and as we open our eyes and ears, this day, to the decision of the Court of Appeal, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing, and going to do, with this thing, this gift, called Independence in this nation called Antigua & Barbuda.
And before we decide, we need to tarry a while, even for an hour, to ponder whether our allegiance will be to God and country or to … otherwise.