Monday Morning Meditation with Rev. Dr. Emmett weir
“Then said Jesus unto those Jews which believed on Him, if you continue in my word then ye shall be my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
~ St. John 8:31-32
THAT THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN 1833, BY AN ACT OF THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH SPEAKING CARIBBEAN THERE CAN BE NOT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT!
Accordingly, in most of these Caribbean territories, the first Monday of August is celebrated as a public holiday. At this time of the year, Jamaica celebrates its attainment of independence, August 6,
And in the Bahamas, there is a second celebration of this most important event on the second Tuesday of AUGUST, COMMONLY KNOWN AS “FOX HILL DAY!”
Evidently, then, the freeing of the slaves marked a major milestone in the history of the Caribbean, especially when it is borne in mind that the peoples of these islands experienced emancipation before slavery was abolished in the USA more than 30 years later!
Yet as we celebrate this great event now more than 160 years ago, we must wonder whether we have attained full emancipation, or liberty.
FOR, AS BRILLIANT CARIBBEAN THEOLOGIAN PROFESSOR KORTRIGHT DAVIS CONSTANTLY REMINDS US, EMANCIPATION IS VERY BROAD IN ITS MEANING. Davis, who hails from ANTIGUA is well known in the region and was the preacher at the recent Lenten mission in The Bahamas.
He is the PROFESSOR OT THEOLOGY AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY DIVINITY SCHOOL, WASHINGTON, DC.
In his seminal work on emancipation in the region, he describes it thusly :
Caribbean existence is unparalleled anywhere else in the whole wide world. It cannot be surpassed for its widely ranging contrasts in human livelihood, social experimentation, political adventure, religious expression and cultural activity” (Emancipation still comin,’ my orbis, 1993, p.7).
Accordingly, emancipation may be conceived of in three dimensions,
THIS IS THE BASIC AND MOST EASILY RECOGNIZED FORM OF EMANCIPATION. IT MEANS LITERALLY BEING RELEASED FROM BONDAGE. This is what is understood when most people in the Caribbean today speak about emancipation and what is celebrated at this time of the year.
IT is, however, important to bear in mind that emancipation in this sense includes not only political liberation or independence, but also socio-economic emancipation. Indeed, there are those who would argue that political emancipation without socio-economic emancipation is really not true and full emancipation. While, it is not possible to discuss the pros and cons of this contention here, it is important to bear in mind that political emancipation is not enough and must be expanded to cover the social and economic aspects of life.
CULUTRAL OR MENTAL EMANCIPATION
Moving to the cultural aspect, which is highlighted by DAVIS there can be no doubt that our region is rich in its cultural diversity, evident in the music, art and folklore here. This includes Carnival, Jjunkanoo, Reggae music, and the stories which are passed from generation to generation along with a sense of humour which is most enjoyable and contagious. Despite this creativity, there is often a sense of inferiority compared to that which comes from abroad. There is a real need for more self-confidence and pride in things indigenous if true cultural emancipation is to be attained. At this level, as at the political, emancipation is still to be attained.
THIS IS THE HIGHEST AND MOST COMPLETE FORM OF EMANCIPATION. WHATEVER MAY BE ATTAINED AT THE POLITICAL AND CULTURAL LEVELS, THEY ARE NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT EMANCIPATION AT THE SPIRITUAL LEVEL, THIS is what Christ SPEAKS OF IN OUR TEXT FOR THIS MEDITATION. In speaking to those who would become his disciples, He emphasizes that they must acknowledge the truth, the truth of him as the messiah, to believe in him and this would bring to them emancipation, liberation.
It is only as we are freed from bondage to sin by believing in Christ THAT WE MAY EXPERIENCE TRUE EMANCIPATION. As Davis puts it for us in contemporary terms,
Christians either behave as if they believe that humanity is created in the image of GOD OR else they practice an ideology which affirms that GOD IS MERELY AN IMAGE OF HUMAN CREATIVITY.
DIVIINE SOVEREIGNTY SPELLS DIVINE
Let us bear this in mind as we celebrate the coming of emancipation to our region and seek to realize true emancipation in our daily living.