Break forth, break forth, break forth into joy, sing together, sing together, break forth into joy. Isaiah 52:9

Christmas would not be Christmas for many without the strains of Christmas music whether in church or in the community. For Caribbean people many delicacies come to mind when we think of celebrating Christmas, and the spirit of giving is prevalent throughout the community.

Serenading, though not very common now, was a common activity enjoyed by many a community. We come for our guava berry, and we come for potato pudding were some of the common themes we would hear.

However, Christmas would not be Christmas without the messages of hope and promised restoration that come from the prophet Isaiah, and as rendered in Handel’s Messiah, which is commonly sung during this time. It tells the story of God comforting the redeemed people and giving them a better life than the one they were presently experiencing. For many choirs the choral arrangement of Isaiah 52:9 Break forth together into singing for the Lord hath comforted His people and redeemed them by Caleb Semper brings life to the Christmas story. Just hearing the message brings a melody to the heart and lips.

This Christmas those old stories will have more meaning for us as we are prohibited from mass gatherings and celebration as we normally would with extended family and friends. As we gather with our immediate family, we can find comfort knowing that while certain joys may have been denied us this year, there is coming a time, when what was promised will come to pass and the redeemed of the Lord will rejoice again.

In addition, we can find great comfort in knowing that the One who made the promise to redeem us, has already fulfilled that promise. All we have to do is to trust in the word of God, and our stars of hope will appear on the horizon so that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

In the midst of what should be a very joyous time for us, may we find the courage to sing for joy in thanksgiving for all that the providence of God has provided for our enjoyment! Even during a time of scarcity and restriction, God still provides enough to sustain us until we arrive in the place of plenty that will be provided for us.

We bring you Christmas greetings as we pray that the Christ of Christmas be experienced in your family gatherings and may the differences this year make us expectant for the hope that is to come.

A blessed and safe Christmas to all.

— The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs is bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands.