Barbados Consul General, Hon. Donna Cox Hunte

The beauty of the Christmas season reminds us of all the beauty in life that we sometimes take for granted: our world, our community, our family, our friends, and our faith. This season is one of the wonderful times of the year when around the world many people join in celebration. During this season, as we gaze on the beautiful sights of the streets and houses illuminated with bright lights and beautiful decorations we get an opportunity to share in the happiness which exists in the hearts of the people who share them with us. This great and wonderful spirit of people is worth seeing as it conjures up a special feeling in our hearts.

We live in a world that is longing for peace, and the message of the Prince of Peace brings much hope. Christmas has become so magical that its name alone brings a smile to the faces of many people, knowing that embedded therein is hope for mankind! This past year as the world grappled with the many events as a result of manmade and natural disasters we should be mindful to focus on the positive things that we were able to enjoy. Despite the challenges that we faced in the Caribbean region, we are grateful of the demonstration of love displayed and the assistance given by our ‘brothers and sisters’ all over the world. During this season, let us be mindful of the many Blessings that were bestowed upon us these past years. Christmas comes immediately after the season of Thanksgiving. It is also enhanced by the spirit of giving. This season, we should go the extra mile, and “pay it forward” by demonstrating a good deed to someone in need. Let us all endeavor to give more this season.

As we usher in the New Year, I pray that it brings peace, love, respect and togetherness for mankind. Let us show greater love and care for one another in the coming year. Let us look forward to the years ahead doing so with hope for a better world. Let us all commit to leading the change that is necessary, starting with ourselves.

Join me in offering words of prayer for families who lost loved ones during the year and would be experiencing some measure of sadness during this season. We must demonstrate thankfulness for God’s blessings and show our loved ones how much we value and appreciate them.

On behalf of the Consulate General of Barbados and indeed the Government and people of Barbados, I wish you a merry Christmas and may God’s grace be with you. Make merry, not just on this wonderful day, but throughout the coming year! Happy New Year and May God continue to bless everyone!

Guyana Consul General, Hon. Barbara Atherly

The Consul General and staff of the Consulate of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in New York take pleasure in extending warmest wishes for a peaceful and Happy Christmas to you all here in New York.

At this time of celebrations let us focus on the story of the birth of Jesus Christ who came to the world as the ‘Prince of Peace’. The story of the birth of Jesus encourages us to reflect on the most important things in our life — faith, family, freedom and the power of forgiveness. This should resonate with us in our present world and circumstances. The celebration of His birth avails the opportunity for all Guyanese to renew the common ties that bind us together to promote peace and goodwill at home and in the wider community. Regardless of our circumstances or faith, the universal message of challenge to moral action and of optimism for new beginnings should be indelible in our minds.

During this season, let us be reminded of the efficacious outpouring of love and support from Guyanese in New York and the tri-state area following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria experienced by our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean Region. It is my prayer that our tradition of hospitality, goodwill and our culture of care and compassion for one another would continue to guide us through the recovery and rebuilding period.

I pray also that during this season and beyond we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and be sincerely thankful for His life and teachings. Christmas is a time for cherishing those who bring so many blessings to our lives. Let’s renew our determination to draw closer to our family and our fellowmen. The Consulate wishes you a wonderful holiday season and renews to you our commitment of providing professional and dedicated service throughout the New Year.

May the holidays bring you and your family peace and happiness and may your heart feel that love this Christmas and right through the New Year.

Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States of America

My fellow Jamaicans in the Diaspora, I am pleased to extend warm greetings to you as we celebrate another Christmas, “the most wonderful time of the year!”

For Jamaicans everywhere, Christmas is that special time of year which radiates a nostalgic feeling for reuniting with family, friends and loved ones, participating in various festivities and exchanging of gifts, while not losing sight of the real meaning of Christmas – hope bestowed upon humanity through the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas 2017 is no different. However, from our historical perspective, 2017 signaled a milestone year in Jamaica’s development – the 55th anniversary of the independence - birth of our beloved homeland. During this year, we focused on “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad”. While acknowledging the continued challenges of socioeconomic development, we paused to give thanks for what we have achieved in just five and a half decades of nationhood.

Having implemented myriad macroeconomic reforms, the offshoots of recovery are evident in the economy’s ten consecutive quarters of growth, record levels of employment and increased output in most industries. In addition, there has been an increase in external demand for some of Jamaica’s goods and services and growth in non-traditional exports. This, against the backdrop of a globally tumultuous year which has resulted in geo-political shifts within and beyond the Western hemisphere. Closer home, many of our neighbours in the Caribbean Region continue to grapple with the damage wreaked by the recent hurricanes during what was an inordinately active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. We are grateful that Jamaica was spared on this occasion. However, let us continue to keep our neighbours in our thoughts and prayers as we continue to facilitate their recovery, rebuilding and resilience efforts.

In “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad”, I must take this opportunity to convey, on behalf of the Government of Jamaica, deepest appreciation for your continued strategic engagement in nation building. I continue to be inspired by the benevolence of Jamaicans in the Diaspora who continue to give selflessly and sacrificially, to enhance the welfare and transform the lives of our fellow citizens back home.

Your patriotic fervor and dedication to providing support to communities from which you originate, notwithstanding the time and distance, reflects the warmth for which Jamaicans have been renowned and the true essence of the Jamaican spirit. As conveyed at the Jamaica ‘55 Diaspora Conference held in Kingston earlier this year, many thanks for supporting the mission to build a better Jamaica, land we love.

On behalf of the staff of the Embassy, I wish for you and yours, a peaceful and holy Christmas and a prosperous 2018.

Bishop Cecil G. Riley, Freedom Hall Church of God

It is that time of year again when people all over the world will pause to commemorate the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I am personally happy to see that the conversation has moved from dealing with a specific date of this birth to the fact that He was indeed born. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied in the fourteenth verse of the seventh chapter of the book that bears his name that a miraculous birth would take place and the Son of this miracle will be called Immanuel, literally meaning “God with us”.

It is recorded in the Scripture that wise men brought gifts to Jesus at his birth but I think in this season it would be well for us to think on the many gifts we are still receiving from the Lord. We certainly have the gift of life, of family and friends, of consolation in our time of mourning, etc.

It is truly amazing how easy it is for us to focus on all the negatives around us. Let us make the effort that it takes to take even a cursory look at the blessings of God.

Jill and Sy Miller wrote the song “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” and my hope is that in this special season we will not only allow peace to begin with us but love, kindness, encouragement and the like. It is about time we all conclude that the Christmas Season is much more than feasting and exchanging gifts. Let us consciously listen to each other as there are times when we can be the gift some persons are seeking to prevent them from losing all hope in this world and be lead to some higher power that can and will provide help in the time of our needs. My wish is that we all experience the joy of Christmas and the very prosperous and healthy 2018.

Bishop Cecil G. Riley is the General Overseer of the Freedom Hall Churches of Godwith headquarters at 629 Albany Avenue,Brooklyn, NY 11203