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Have a blessed Christmas 2007

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More than 2,000 years ago, the Virgin Mary gave birth to a Son. Mankind received its Saviour, and to those who had dwelled in the darkness, the light of hope had come. The birth of the Son of God was one of the greatest events in all history. Each Christmas we celebrate that first coming anew, and we rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus Christ who came to Earth that night in Bethlehem is with us still and will remain with us forever.{{more}}

Christmas is an ideal time to express love and good wishes for those we care. Christmas is a season of hope and joy, a time to give thanks for the blessing of Christ’s birth and for the blessings that surround us every day of the year. We have much to be thankful for in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and we have a responsibility to help those in need during this season of giving as always. Jesus calls us to help others, and acts of kindness toward the less fortunate help to fulfill the spirit of the Christmas season.

As families and friends gather to celebrate Christmas, we remember all the blessings that fill our lives, beginning with the great blessing that came on a holy night in Bethlehem. For Christians around the world, the birth of Jesus is a central religious event; an example of God’s profound love for humanity; and the pathway to hope and to new life. Today, the Christmas story still speaks to every generation. This is an invitation to all my fellow citizens to share in the warmth of Christmas.

This holiday season, as we share in the spirit of giving and enjoying familiar Christmas traditions, we give thanks for the wonder of God’s love, which invites us to rededicate ourselves to helping those in need.

Why should we have joy? We have this joy because the Christ of Christmas has been good to us individually and collectively. In the midst of the impacting global economic forces, God has enabled us as a nation to stand firm.

God has once again spared us from the ravages of hurricanes and other disasters. Those of us who experienced the shaking of the earth a few weeks ago will always have much to say of that experience. He has provided the opportunities for sound investment in our economic development. He has blessed us with abundant showers of rain during the year and we are all grateful. Our tourist arrivals have been holding steady, and the prospects in 2008 appear to be very encouraging. St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a nation and Vincentians as a people have a lot to thank God for. This is cause for joy; therefore, I invite us to share our joys this season.

The year 2007 has brought the usual mixture of successes and disappointments, joys and sorrows. Many families experienced tragedy and devastation, while others celebrated achievements and increased prosperity. A minority of persons chose to commit crime and violent acts, while the majority remained productive and law abiding citizens. Christmas and the end of a year provide a good opportunity for reflection and contemplation.

The year 2007 is almost completely before us. It will be a challenging year for us in 2008, but the God of Jacob and Abraham will be with us. Therefore, I am confident that with God’s grace and guidance, and with the support of all our social partners, that our dreams will be realised.

I am fearful, though, that all our efforts to secure a better standard of living for our citizens and residents can be jeopardized by the criminal activities of a few. This negative behaviour is alien to our way of life, and I appeal to the perpetrators to desist from activities that will tarnish our reputation as a peaceful, low crime tourist destination. We must be our nation’s keeper.

I invite all fellow Vincentians to join each other as we strive to build a society where each individual can achieve his or her true potential and live in freedom, dignity and prosperity.

It is my prayer that the love of God and His power will envelop us throughout 2008 so that lives may be changed to bring hope for our troubled world. May hatred be replaced by love, may our failures be turned to successes and may our fears be lifted.

An interesting aspect of the Christmas season in St Vincent is the pre-Christmas celebration called Nine Mornings, observed for nine days – December 16-24. It features early morning street activities such as parades through the streets, string band serenades, carolling and singing. The sound of drums and steel pans, and Vincy food and drink are very evident. Activities start early, at around 5.00 am, while it is still dark. The activities culminate around 7a.m., and it is always interesting, though, to see the great ease with which the Nine Mornings activities give way to a regular work day. I have seen a revival this year in rural nine morning celebrations. One of the explanations for this is that nine morning activities are twinned with well organised village lighting competitions.

The message of the Christmas tree, it is said, is that life is always green if you give, not only with material things, but with blessings obtained through friendship and sincere affection, through help and forgiveness, by spending time together and listening to each other.

A Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all.

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