CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2015 FROM THE VERY REV JAMES ALLEN YAW ODICO BISHOP-ELECT, ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF THE GAMBIA
Dec 28, 2015, 11:01 AM
The Diocesan Network of Lectors set up three years ago to promote the proclamation of the Gospel and play their part in service to the Church gathered to celebrate their third anniversary at the Saint Charles Lwanga Catholic Church. There were about 10 out of 12 parishes with an outstanding number of Catholic Lectors present. The Network was created to help lectors from all over the country. They have delved into the education of their members, teaching them reading skills amidst a lot of challenges. They have also improved on their spirituality by organising retreats, and do socialise as well. Their Chaplain, Fr. Edu Gomez, has not relented in showing the way. Panorama finds out how they have been doing since its inception in 2007.
Members of the Diocesan Network of Lectors from all over Kombo Saint Mary gathered at Saint Charles to celebrate their third anniversary. Members from Resurrection Parish at Brikama, St. Peter's Parish, Holy Rosary Church at Lamin under St. Peter's Parish, St. Charles Parish, St. Therese Parish at Kanifing, Cathedral Parish Banjul, Star of The Sea, Holy Cross Church of Brusubi, Divine Mercy of Brufut under the Holy Cross Parish were present with quite a good number of their members.
Austin Kanjia, the Secretary General of the Network, said Blessed Sacrament Parish lectors, Holy Family under the Star of the Sea Parish and St. Anthony's Parish were not present, but implored them to be part of their own celebrations.
The occasion brought over 100 lectors together for the first time ever. Their t-shirts and jeans made them distinct among the congregation. The songs from the charismatic choir moved the Church, and with the brilliance of the preaching by Rev. Fr. John Mendy moved the congregation, making the day a superb and memorable occasion.
Fr. John Mendy of Saint Therese Parish was the chief celebrant and, in his sermon, commented on Jeremiah saying, "Jeremiah heard the voice of God and listened. God sometimes speaks in situations we cannot understand and we may act accordingly." He said Jesus interpreted the Word to his people and told them the scripture has been fulfilled. But the people reacted and doubted who he was. "Who is this man, an uneducated man; what can he tell us? Jesus knew their thoughts! God chooses people to do His will, but many will not allow Him," he said.
Talking about Elijah and a woman at the well, he said there was only a little for her and her child, but insisted that the woman gives him. The woman feared that they would die if they had nothing to eat after giving to Elijah. "Due to her single act of faith she gave it to him and later got a 100 fold," Fr. Mendy said.
Fr. John Mendy confirmed that there is no foreigner or new face in the House of God, that everyone is the same before Him. Some people, he said, will leave Fajikunda Church to attend Banjul, others will do likewise with other Churches.
"Many people leave their country thinking that there is no good in their country. Brain drain is another. Many people do not appreciate their culture, they rather go for the latest from USA, UK or the like, and they often forget their culture, and their cultural dress," he said.
Jesus, he said, was not appreciated, and so many will not like you even from the same country, clan or family. If they do not appreciate you, he continued, God appreciates you, because it was in your mother's womb that He knew you. "Whatever you are He is going to change your situation. He will transform you; do not run away from your Church," he said.
He said for God to perform a miracle, the ground must be fertile for it. The people were willing to connect to God. "You must connect and see yourself as connected to God or else nothing good will come. Miracle could not happen in Israel, because if there is no faith there will be no miracle. There is need for us to act according to the spirit of God," he said.
He advised the congregation to take courage in the Word of God, for "any weapon fashioned against you shall not prosper," he said.
Fr. Mendy lambasted women who make up. "Make up as you know attracts a lot. You must not destroy God's temple, if you want to be a European tell God to help you out. You know what happens when you rub make up. Do not disturb the temple of God," he said.
To the Diocesan Lectors he says: "Love is the answer. Lectors, when you come up to the alter there is to be love on your face or else people would not listen to what you would proclaim. You are called to appreciate others; let us appreciate our environment. We should not be afraid, because God says He will protect us from all harm. Your love for others as lectors must not have an end," he said.
Earnest Anthony Mendy highlighted their challenges and successes, thanking his members for holding tight to their promise. "We shall overcome our challenges. We started by creeping, but now we can see that we have started running. The past anniversary was less impressive with less member participation, but today we have seen the high turn out. We thank God for that. Today, it is backward never forward ever," he said.
Austin Kanjia, the Secretary General, spoke on their early beginning, their struggles and successes. He urged representatives to be time conscious and urged members to participate more readily. Peter French, the president of St. Charles Lectors, challenged the Network member churches to try hard to defeat them in their turn out for Network activities, as they always have the highest number during activities. An evaluation was done, and many talked on more member participation and fund-raising activities.