#National News

NEW YEAR 2020 MESSAGE BY THE MOST REVEREND HANNAH CAROLINE FAAL-HEIM, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE GAMBIA, THE METHODIST CHURCH THE GAMBIA

Jan 4, 2021, 1:18 PM

His name shall be called “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;  authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually,   and there shall be endless peace  for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

We have sure grounds for the conviction that this prophecy has been fulfilled, for the Holy Scriptures tell us so:

First, an entire choir of angels celebrated this reality in their triumphant song when they announced the birth of Jesus, the Saviour, the Prince of Peace: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours” (Luke 2:14)!

Second, when Jesus had grown up and began his ministry as the Prince of Peace on earth, he introduced his ministry with the following words, quoting from a prediction about the ministry of the Messiah in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

(Luke 4:18-19, quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2)

And Jesus concluded his self-introduction with the words: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

In this season of Christmas and at the beginning of the New Year 2021, we celebrate that this vision, which inspired the hope of the people of God and sustained them through many centuries of waiting, has finally come true.  We celebrate that Jesus Christ has come to bring us peace, and there are many songs and hymns which help us celebrate this truth, for example the famous Christmas hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, which contains the line “Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace.” – So we have reason for hope this New Year 2021. All of us can know real peace in the world following the year 2020, when there has been a pandemic that brought isolation to many and devastation to the health and wealth of all nations on earth.

Peace and happiness can only be achieved when the causes of conflict and fear have been removed, when there is fairness and sharing, and all have what they need to flourish and enjoy life. This is true for families, within nations and regions, and across culture and different nations as well.

“His name shall be ‘Prince of Peace,’” says the prophet in every generation, and also today! This will be full reality in Jesus’ second coming. We say: “Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus,” as we live in hope of the fullness of his coming.  May we continue to have this hope for the New Year as we look forward to a better 2021. As families, communities and nations, may we endure and find God’s healing and God’s peace.

Even today, we can find inspiration for a better today and tomorrow in the prophetic words of Holy Scripture. Even though there are still many conflicts that overwhelm the earth and bring destruction, even though there continue to be armed conflicts and terror in many parts of the world, even though the weak and the vulnerable still have to fear the greed and wickedness of the powerful, this present reality will not last forever. Holy Scripture promises us that Jesus the Prince of Peace will come again and make all things right, as the Lord himself through the prophet Isaiah has spoken it.

May we in The Gambia continue to live in peace with one another, and embrace patience, unity and respect for all, despite our diversity. Let us pray for peace in our families, in our communities, and in the nation. By God’s grace, let us continue to be an example of peace for the whole world, an inspiration for other nations that peace is possible, here and now!

The year 2021 marks the 200th Anniversary of the establishment of the Methodist Church in The Gambia in the year 1821. The mission of the Methodist Church during the past 200 years has been to bring the love of God to our people. We have done this, inspired by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, by establishing schools and medical services, as well as agricultural initiatives. Most importantly, the Methodist Church has brought the Good News of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to all among whom we live and work in the Nation. We have endeavoured to follow the words of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, that we should love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. We have preached the Good News that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)  We are grateful and thankful to God as we celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the Methodist Church in the Gambia.  We thank God for establishing and sustaining the church, and for enabling it to make a positive contribution to the country of the Gambia.

Even as the Methodist Church celebrates God’s sustaining love in 2021, we invite you to thank God with us. And as we do so, let us be inspired by the firm knowledge that God has been with us and will remain with us. Let us reflect at the beginning of a New Year about what God can do for us and with us, despite the pandemic. Let us discover our purpose in life and the vision that God has for us in the year 2021.

There is so much we can be grateful for. Think how God has protected you, how he has provided for you and your family. Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and be grateful to God. And then let that gratitude inspire you to be compassionate and generous to others in turn. Trust God that he can use all of us to make this nation and the world a better place in 2021, especially for the children and youths.

Let us stand together against the works of darkness. Let us avoid procrastination and laziness. Let us work hard to build a better life for the common good, with wisdom, passion, and commitment. Let us live honourably in the presence of Almighty God.

Let us walk together into this New Year with hope, courage and confidence and let us receive with gratitude God’s blessings for a New Year, that we may gain strength, protection, good health and happiness. May the New Year bring you peace, joy, and prosperity.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

May God grant you all a blessed New Year 2021.  Shalom, Shalom.

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