My Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Tomorrow we join with our brothers and sisters of the Diocese in celebrating Emancipation Day. The celebration of liberation is a significant feature of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Passover which is the major celebration of Jewish religion is a celebration of the liberation of, the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Our emancipation celebration continues a well established religious tradition.
As we celebrate this historical event, a question that has continued to occupy our minds is what is the relevance of this event to us in the twenty-first century. The celebration of religious historical events, is far more than sentimental recollection. We celebrate these events because for us they are events which recall God’s salvation activity on our behalf.
Emancipation for us is a time when God called men and women both in the then British West Indies and in England to recognize this evil and dehumanizing system, and commit themselves to bring it to an end. I suggest to us that whatever was the motivation of these people, their activities represented God’s movement in their lives. I further suggest to us that God acts in the lives of people even when they themselves are not cognizant of this reality.
Our Emancipation celebration has been observed in various ways. Some persons have chosen to party, others choose to focus on the contributions of significant persons in the abolition movement, while some focus on the contribution of particular institutions. Let me suggest to us that our celebration as a Province is an occasion to offer thanksgiving to God, for God’s salvation activity in liberating a people. This liberation allowed our people to be freed from a system in which they were being used to advance the economic interests of others, while they were denied the experience of their God given humanity.
Emancipation I suggest is an actualization of the concept “Imago Deo.” This concept speaks to a people experiencing themselves as being in the Image of God.
Today, we celebrate the reality that God enabled a people to experience themselves as his people. We celebrate today our experience as God’s people. We do so mindful that no system, no force, no power will ever be able to inhibit us from experiencing God’s love, a love that liberates us to become his people in the Christ. God is our emancipation.