Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Much to Celebrate

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I am particularly peeved when someone says
There is nothing for Barbados to celebrate
And all that person can see is the last few years
And the challenges confronting us here of late.

It really appears that our memory is short
And that past successes have been cancelled out
And given the struggles that we currently engage
We say there is nothing really to shout about.

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While I truly appreciate that these times are rough
And the ship of state is tossed high and low
Yet I am reminded of the good times we have had
And the mercies of God that so unceasingly flow.

To sum up fifty years in the last five years or so
Shows far more than a smattering of ingratitude
And when present challenges obliterate all the past
I must ask from whence came this ungrateful mood.

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A sincere reflection over the last fifty years
Speaks to tremendous growth and development
Of a nation though small and lacking in resources
Yet striving and holding its own with Godly intent.

For we boast of God being the people’s guide
And boldly confessed His presence by our side
Yet in a moment of challenge and failing policies
That same God we are willing to openly deny.

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For to say there is really nothing to celebrate
Is to say that God has done nothing for us
That there is nothing for which to be thankful
And therefore what is the need for all of the fuss.

Fifty years and still being able to recollect
Is a profound and God given opportunity
And a people granted such a welcome privilege
Should raise hearts and hands to God in unity.

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Through much we have come ‘tis true, ‘tis true
These first fifty years post independence
There were times we plateaued and times we grew
But we put our hands to the plow without reticence.
Today there are challenges as there were in the past
That with trust in Almighty God we overcame
This is the opportune time that we look to Him again
Rather than spend our time in apportioning blame.

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There’s much to celebrate just look around and you’ll see
Our colleges, our schools and our university
Churches of differing faiths flung far and near
And freedom of religious beliefs is still regarded here.

Having had ten elections since nineteen sixty-six
None of them were rigged and none of them were fixed
And on four occasions when the government was changed
It was done peaceably as though Divinely arranged.

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Our dollar has remained steadfast its value unchanged
Unlike several of our Caribbean counterparts
Though threatened and battered time and again
This little nation has never lost heart.

Like most countries all around the globe
Crime has shaken us at our very foundation
But not all of our youth are going this way
For many have been taking a different direction.

And relative to many countries around the world
Barbadians still enjoy certain basic human rights,
Let us celebrate those rights that still remain
And persevere to preserve them with all our might.

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Yes we have lost some gains and that hurts to the core
Like free university education and the like
But let’s celebrate Community College and the Polytechnic
And praise God for such morning, noon and night.

And in our celebrating let us spare a thought
For those Barbadians who are severely disadvantaged
No water at their taps and no reliable bus service
Who can blame them for feeling sabotaged?

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And after a prolonged period of unprecedented drought
The long sought for rains have finally come
Let us celebrate the freshness of all nature
And the faithfulness of each and every morning’s sun

For nothing to celebrate is to dishonor the Creator
And at Him an accusatory finger direct
It’s an indication that He has done nothing for us
And therefore not worthy of our respect.

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It is so easy given our differing political ideologies
To completely castigate an opposing view
But let us celebrate the contributions of all and sundry
The DLP, BLP, NDP, the ancient and old and even the new.
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Let us celebrate the strengths of our two political parties
And the political balance they bring to our nation
And let’s celebrate too the several pressure movements
Which over the years have made an invaluable contribution.

Nothing to celebrate is a misguided and untruthful publication
Designed to bury us in the graveyard of pessimistic advocacy
But counting our blessings spread over the past fifty years
Is worthy of celebration and praise to God for His undying love and mercy.


Stewart Russell © 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Word Worth Considering

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I like a word I heard recently
Let us celebrate our Independence
It took into scope our first fifty years
And reflected on its significance.

This word avoided political divide
And shunned all political partisanship
And pushed the idea of one Barbados
And called for all to take a grip.

Take a grip of the fact
That we have traversed fifty years
From nineteen sixty-six to the present
And bear in mind that we are still around
With a chance to renew our intent.

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Take a grip of the fact
That God is ultimately responsible
For all that has been achieved
And that should we reach another fifty
It will be through Him the good we receive.

Take a grip of the fact
That many have contributed
To our development and our progress
And these proceed from all walks of life
Not just those with academic success.

Take a grip of the fact
That the church has been in the forefront
Regarding the maintenance of those mores
Which have pointed us to a God of love
And have developed us in so many ways.

Take a grip of the fact
That education has been a hallmark
In improving the lot of our life
And our living standards are so much better
Since the times of much social strife.

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Take a grip of the fact
That our country Barbados is made up
Of a diverse and talented group of citizens
And successfully navigating the way forward
Will call for more than two and a half dozen.

Take a grip of the fact
That as we reflect upon the past fifty
Calling to mind both failure and success
As a people there would be renewal
And the country as a whole would progress.

Renewal that points a better way of life
Returning to the values we once held dear
Of courtesy, respect and politeness
And to all persons showing that we care.

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Renewal that speaks to a better life
For all oncoming generations
Recognizing our God ordained responsibility
To point them in the right direction.

Renewal that motivates commitment
To Almighty God who has led us thus far
And a resolute determination that never wavers
Amidst the obstacles that present a bar.

A renewal of the covenant with God
That promotes Him as our sovereign Lord
As the God of all mercy and all grace
And that has always kept His Word.

A renewal of love for our country
That surpasses one’s preoccupation with party
A renewal that upholds the common good
And commits to our national unity.

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This word not only called us to reflect
And to commit to the values we once held
But it prompted us to give thanks to God
And of His grace to others tell.

Stewart Russell © 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our Ship of State

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Fifty years of Independence
A half-century at our craft
Now regarded as a ship of state
Having started out as a raft.

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Through waters of variance
And sailing many a strait
Along the channels of resistance
We have had to navigate.

It has not been easy
Though sometimes it was light
But amidst the ups and downs
We focused on the light.

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Targets not always clear
At times appeared nebulous
But with much determination
We placed in God our trust.

We often sing of His guidance
Whenever our anthem we raise
For without him by our side
We‘d never traverse life’s maze.

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Much has been our growth
Sometimes stunted and slowed
But so far in our existence
We have survived every blow.

There’s still a long way to go
The future appears depressing
But with faith in God above
We can continue progressing.

For it’s not what we possess
That ultimately sees us through
It’s God in whom we trust
That turns grey skies to blue.

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So as we reflect on the past fifty
And raise our glasses in toasting
Let us remember the God who led
And avoid the careless boasting.
Let us continue to trust Him
As we navigate the troubled seas
With head and heart and hand
With our aim always God to please.

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For in God’s hand our ship is safe
And to safe harbor He will bring,
Whatever the tempest or the storm
Over all creation He is King.

So reflect, yes, that’s a must
And project without needless fuss
But in it all and through it all
Remember that it’s in God we trust.

Stewart Russell © 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Potential and Purpose

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Potential and purpose,
The hallmarks of life
Are equally important
In life’s daily strife.

One’s given at the start
The other ongoing till death
Lives full of purpose
With intervals of rest.

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The believer, chosen of God
With a purpose in view
Invested with potential
That purpose to pursue.

Procrastination and indolence
With diligence eschew
These are ever present
To hamper me and you.

The Apostle Paul an example
Potential in a vessel
Walked as God demanded
Amidst all of life’s hassle.

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In the end he could declare
His purpose fulfilled
Potential used up
And none of it spilled.

An excellent spirit
Manifested in his work
Mindful of his purpose
With no thought to shirk.

An example to Timothy
And to all of us here
That potential is purpose
That is yet to appear.

For potential means nothing
Unless it is tapped
So that purpose ensues
Or else purpose is trapped.

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For excellence is ongoing
With potential its furnace
God’s purpose our goal
Ensured by His grace.

Stewart Russell © 2016