Saturday, November 07, 2009

Appropriate Pomp for the Circumstance

Yesterday, the Lord granted me the privilege of observing seismic historical changes in the Cayman Islands. The country celebrated the adoption of its new constitution, replete with new authority, new political positions, and some continuity with previous ties to England. The constitution modernization process also included a Bill of Rights, identifying 19 basic human rights for people in the Cayman Islands.

Yesterday's celebration was a long time in the making. The constitution modernization process took a LOT of time, with a LOT of people, thinking through a LOT of issues. The democratic process was at its messy best with multiple public hearings, negotiations with England, public debate between various stakeholders, including voices secular and religious. Along the way, there were "make or break" issues that threatened one side or another. But in the end, the Constitution was approved by a huge margin in the Country's first-ever public referendum. Free democracy fueled by an enlightened citizenry produced another happy result in the cause of just rule.

Writing or editing a constitution for a country is arduous and at time precarious in any county. But I was struck at the clash of ideals that often occurred in this process. Ideas have consequences and one could see that as issues like marriage and public education were discussed.

As I sat among the crowd yesterday, I caught sight of a number of my colleagues in ministry here. Some of them played herculean roles in this process, giving biblical and prophetic witness during many discussions. What a blessing to know these men and to live in a country that seeks the blessing of God and the input of pastors.

The first ever Premier, Deputy Premier, and Deputy Governor were sworn in during the service. As an American, I'm still a bit allergic to referring to Queens and her appointees with titles like "Her/his majesty." Kinda puts the taste of tea in my mouth. But there was a majesty about the day. One official donned powdered wig and robe. His Majesty the Governor, appointed by the Queen of England, inspected the ceremonial guard who shouldered arms, paraded, and saluted at all the appropriate times. And at times, the Premier's speech cast high and lofty vision in common and accessible language. There was a brass band, the national choir, and tons of people assembled on this historic day. We witnessed something of the peaceful transition of power and the day-one inauguration of a new era of legal and governmental authority.

Throughout the day's ceremony, many thanks were given to God. Pastor Alson Ebanks prayed the invocation and did so with keen and clear meditation on the Lordship of Christ. It was great. The Premier gave honor to God throughout his remarks... even if he gave a bit too much honor to himself. He's a politician after all. The national choir sang "the Hallelujah Chorus," and a quartet led in a song that very much celebrated "the victory of the Lamb." The ACLU would have wet its pants, and already a case would be making its way to the Supreme Court.

But with all the pomp and circumstance, I'm most thankful for how I was left longing for the coronation of Christ the True King and Only Majesty, Potentate of potentates, Lord of Glory! What a coronation it will be when the King Eternal consummates His reign and puts death under His feet. What a processional of angels and saints marching up to Zion! And, oh! how the heavenly choir will sing and the harps play! Redeemed Premiers and Governors and High Officials will bow with martyrs and missionaries and housewives and all creation to give all praise and honor to the Lamb who is worthy! On that day, the pomp will match the circumstance and the circumstance will be the transformation of all creation into a showcase of Jesus' unveiled glory!

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


Ben Stevenson said...

I saw a newspaper story about this in the UK saying that politicians were pressurising the Cayman Islands to remove references to Christianity from its constitution.

"But the Foreign Affairs Committee objected to the redrafted constitutions of two territories: the Cayman Islands in the western Caribbean Sea and St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic.
The Cayman Islands says in the preamble to its constitution, which was finalised in February, that it is a ‘God-fearing country based on traditional Christian values, tolerant of other religions and beliefs’.
The constitution adds that it was ‘a country in which religion finds its expression in moral living and social justice’.
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha said in its constitution that the islands wished ‘to continue as communities of tolerance, with respect for government and the law, Christian and family values and protection of the environment’.
The territory’s governor Andrew Gurr said the British Government had directly suggested that it drop references to Christian values from its constitution...." -- Daily Mail article

This is despite the UK itself having established churches in England and Scotland (the Church of England and the Church of Scotland respectively).

The impression in the Daily Mail at least, is that it was the UK imposing its secular outlook on more religious people. Was that the impression you got in the Cayman Islands?

FellowElder said...

Hi Ben,

I think the consensus opinion is that most of the secular pressures came from without the country. Most of that pressure, I think, came from European or European-inspired conventions. Most Caymanians are pretty proud of the Christian heritage of the country. So, this all took on an interesting "culture war" perspective, where Caymanians have seen themselves as under assault and their traditional values/lifestyles threatened by forces outside its own history and culture.

Thanks for the Daily Mail piece. I hadn't seen that.


Anonymous said...

The only good thing about the day was the constitution. Unfortunately as many honourable, respectable gentlemen have served this country as MLA's, we ended up with someone who would deliver a self-centered speech, berate and threaten the UK, as our first Premier. Sadly this is not a correct reflection on our heritage. So a sad shadow on a wonderful day. We pray the UK does not hold this against us.

bathmate said...

I liked it.