Monday, April 22, 2024

Christmas Message: Wesleyan Holiness Church


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Christmas Message from Rev.  Dr Joel Cumberbatch, General Superintendent – The Wesleyan Holiness Church in the Caribbean


The theme for this message was motivated by a Christmas telephone competition on the popular ‘Morning Barbados’ television programme.   The randomly selected participants were chosen from among the official registrants.  On answering their phones with the theme, which is in Bajan dialect, they were the beneficiaries of special gifts compliments various sponsors.

In standard English, the theme states: ‘What Are You Giving Me for Christmas? This profoundly echoes, for some, what the season is all about – giving our time, talents, and resources to help those in need. Currently, all around the world, individuals, families, churches, and other agencies and organisations are redoubling their efforts in providing food hampers, hot meals, clothing, and other necessities to the poor and disenfranchised.

However, In the Christian community, we are uniquely aware that Christmas is not just a seasonal activity, but a commitment that must engage our attention throughout the year.  It is also not just about providing basic material benefits to others.  Spiritual formation, the plight of refugees, victims of religious persecution, poverty, war, human trafficking, child abuse, domestic abuse, and the many other ills in society must equally and consistently engage our attention.

The theme is also the key ‘hook line’ of a popular Christmas song penned by Sach Moore – a Barbadian songwriter and entertainer.  That song was the background music for the jingle which promoted the television programme previously mentioned.

In response to the question, ‘Wuh Ya Gine Gimme Fuh Christmas?’ the artiste encouraged people to give anything they can spare (Gimme any ting ya can spare). Interestingly, the ‘weight’ and value of a gift are not necessarily measured by its size but by the thought and the motivation on the part of the giver.

The other side of the ‘Christmas coin’ speaks to those who see Christmas purely in getting terms.  In essence, they are primarily consumed by self-interest.  Many people are devastated if they do not receive a gift of the kind they anticipated.  Relatedly, some persons only extend gifts to those who will extend one in return.

In the faith community, we have a perfect example in God concerning the issues of giving and getting.  The following words of the Apostle Paul are quite instructive: ‘He who did not spare His son but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32); But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5: 8).’

One writer suggested that the perfect gift must meet three criteria: (1). It must reflect the one who gives it; (2). Knowledge of the need or needs of the recipient; (3). The gift should be of a nature and quality that will hold its value as time goes on.  Ideally, Jesus fits these criteria.

Therefore, I encourage you to be proactive and share Him – the Perfect Gift with someone this Christmas. He is relevant to all people everywhere and in all situations.  Let what we give instead of what we get be our mantra and motivation as we celebrate.

On behalf of my family, the General Board of Administration of the Caribbean General Conference, and the Board of the International Wesleyan Church. I wish you a blessed Christmas and a prosperous 2023.


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