Be an instrument of God's peace -- Christmas message from the Archbishop of the West Indies


Be an instrument of God's peace -- Christmas message from the Archbishop of the West Indies


John Holder

The celebration of Christmas still captures the attention of the world each year. It holds our attention, at least for a while, and leads us to reflect on some possibilities.

These are possibilities for the improvement of human relationships, and consequently the improvement of the world.

Christmas leads us to reflect on the possibility of peace. In the context of violence at home and abroad, we reflect on this elusive experience called peace that we all need to be present in our lives, in our families and in our community and in the world.

We reflect, convinced that the presence of peace can transform lives, human relationships, and the condition of the world and move us closer to the ideal of Isaiah 2:4 where the prophet hopes that one day we “beat our swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks”.

We join with the prophet and hope for a time when war and conflict and violence will not be the ready and easy options in our search for solutions to some of the difficult issues that confront us in this world.

We reflect at this Christmas time on the possibility of peace and we should pledge, in the words of St Francis of Assisi, to be instruments of God’s peace. We should try to remove from our lives and from our relationships the attitudes and the practices that destroy rather than cultivate and build peace.

The Christmas story also tells of the possibility of hope. It declares that with our faith in God we can hope for conditions that are far better than what we may be experiencing at present.

St Luke’s setting of the Christmas story in the condition of the darkness of night where shepherds are longing for light, and in a condition of scarce public accommodation where a pregnant young mother can find no secure and clean space for the delivery of her child, are conditions that utter a cry of hope for better times.

That light of the angels piercing the darkness of the shepherds’ night, and the stable providing space, even if less than the best, for the pregnant Mary, remind us that in the darkest of nights and in the most dire of conditions, there can be hope. Things can get better.

This is the Christmas message that we are called to live and to share as Christians. It is a message that speaks to our conditions here in Barbados at this time. We are to be instruments of God’s peace and heralds of his hope.

Make an effort to be an instrument of God’s peace this Christmas. If there is a condition that you are aware of that is full of conflict and tension, a condition that makes the presence of peace difficult to implant and to maintain, one in which the use of a gun may seem to someone as an easier solution than the pursuit of reconciliation, do your best to restore peace. This is the greatest gift you can share at this time. We are called to be instruments of God’s peace.

Make an effort to be God’s herald of hope. At those times when all seems lost, when the improvement of present conditions seems beyond possibility, be a voice of hope.

With faith in God and guided by the Jesus our Lord, be a herald of hope for someone who may be going through a difficult stage in life. Let this be another special gift that you share with someone this Christmas.

The world cannot allow the flames of peace and hope that come alive at Christmas to last just for a few days and then die. The church must be the place where the two are kept alive and effective each and every day.

Each of us must be an instrument of peace and a herald of hope not only at Christmas time, but on each and every day of the year. Be this instrument for someone today, and for many, many more days.

May God grant you a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.