BY THE PRIME MINISTER, HONOURABLE RICK HOUENIPWELA.
My fellow Solomon Islanders, let me on behalf of the Government extend warm Christmas greetings to you all.
I also convey greetings from my family to all of you: men, women, boys and girls throughout this country, Solomon Islands, as well as those of you living abroad.
My good people, as we approach the end of 2017, and upon reflection, the year has been a very challenging one. Indeed it has been a difficult year for many of you.
You may have lost a loved one, you may have lost valuable property, or lost a job, or could not find one, and for our Youths perhaps you many have not got a government scholarship your were looking for, or for a businessperson, you have not got that business deal that you were looking for, or in the family a relationship may have ended up badly, or a terrible accident has happened in the family and for many you are still struggling daily trying to make ends meet.
As you know, the Government has had its share of challenges as well. There are many pressing issues that could not be attended to. Government finances have been in bad shape it could not deliver on its intended development goals. The country had experienced a long period of political instability. The economy has been going through trying times. And of course these challenges have not gone away.
At the same time, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that despite these circumstances the year has been conquered. Despite the obstacles, you have soldiered on, you continue to persevere, you keep walking, you have taken these hard times as a stepping stone in life – you keep moving on, you just walk on, and on.
My dear people, in times like these we give thanks to God. We should acknowledge his daily provisions.
I would like to encourage all of us to remain steadfast, strong and positive. Let us not dwell on the past, but be positive about tomorrow and the future. To have the spirit that keeps out the negativity and embrace positivity.
I encourage us all to maintain that positive spirit – about our families, communities and about our nation.
Good citizens, Christmas is a time to spend with families and loved ones. This is the time we exchange gifts, share laughter and enjoy the festivities. It is a time for celebrations. However, in our celebrations, we must also take time to remember the hungry, the sick, the needy, the marginalized, and those that are suffering among us.
It is a time when we must act out of love towards our neighbor. The weak and the disadvantaged. It is a time to do good works in our neighborhood, in our families, in our tribal groups, and in our communities.
In that spirit we remember the sick and the blind, the lame, including those of us with ‘special needs’ and especially not forgetting our children.
Let us remember our elderly and those who have lost their loved ones. It is time we must demonstrate God’s love in action this Christmas.
God’s Love – the Christmas Theme
But above all, my fellow Citizens, Christmas is about the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the time we stop, reflect and acknowledge God’s intervention in our affairs. This is the time we should acknowledge that without God, humankind is lost.
My dear people, God’s love for us is the central theme of Christmas. This is the reason for our celebrations. We are hereby challenged to love like God loved us.
Indeed, we are called to love our neighbors just as Christ loved us. In that spirit each of us is called to serve our family, our village, our community and ultimately our Nation.
In that regard I wish to leave with you a few thoughts on why the story of Christmas is the good news.
My good people, the first Christmas was perfectly timed by God, happening just when He wanted it. We find in Paul’s letter to the Galatians in chapter 4 verse 4 which reads,
“When the right time came, God sent His son…”
So what time is Christmas this year? You find the answer in four statements the angel said to the shepherds at the first Christmas in the Gospel of (Luke 2:10-14).
1. it’s time to release your fears! The first thing the angel said was, “Do not be afraid!” Fear is your greatest barrier to knowing God and fulfilling his purposes for your life. Fear is a self-imposed prison that keeps you from living the life God intends for you. So whatever you are afraid of – Christmas is the time to let it go.
2. it’s time to renew your faith! The angel said “I bring you good news with great joy, and it is for everyone!” The Good News of Jesus keeps getting better because the bad news of the world keeps getting worse. The Good News is that God loves you, he created you for a purpose. God has really long range plans for your life! Christmas is time to come back to God.
3. it’s time to receive forgiveness! Next the angel said, “Today a Saviour has been born for you; He is Christ the Lord!” If our greatest need was education, God would have sent a teacher. If our greatest need was health, he would have sent a doctor. If our greatest need was financial, he would have sent an economist. But our greatest need is forgiveness, so God sent a Saviour. It doesn’t matter what wrong you’ve done, you can receive forgiveness through Jesus
4. it’s time to rebuild relationships! Finally the angel said, “Peace on earth, and goodwill to all people.” Once you haveve accepted God’s forgiveness, He wants you to forgive everyone else. Who do you need to offer forgiveness to this Christmas? It’s time to make peace! Time to rebuild relationships.
My fellow citizens, I believe that is the greatest news, and challenge about this Christmas.
Before I conclude, let me remind all of us that there are also many who will be unable to join in our celebrations. We should pay particular tribute to our men and women who will be maintaining normal and essential services throughout the holiday period. Most especially those serving in the clinics and hospitals, as well as those helping to maintain safety and security.
As well we thank the dedicated men and women in the emergency services. There are many in public service as well as in the private sector who are engaged in ensuring essential services continue to function during the holiday season.
So as you celebrate the festivities with family and friends, let us acknowledge and appreciate these folks who will not be able to do so due to their call of duties.
In conclusion, allow me again to now wish you all the best of this Christmas.
On this note I want to express Christmas greetings and sincere best wishes from my family to:
• The Governor General and his family
• The Speaker of the National Parliament and his family
• The Chief Justice and his family
• Cabinet Ministers and backbenchers & their families
• Leader of the Official Opposition Group and his family
• Leader of the Independent Group and his family
• The Churches and Faith-based organizations
• Government Ministries, Departments and other Public Offices
• Provincial Premiers, Members of Provincial Governments, Chiefs and Village Elders
• The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF)
• The Judiciary and Legal Services and the Legal Fraternity
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps
• Our Development Partners and Friends
• The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and their members;
• Our Farmers and Fishermen in our Rural Areas;
• Our Shipping Operators, and other Transport Services Providers
• Management and Staff of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) and Authorities
• Non-Government Organizations
• Media Organizations
• Our Pensioners and Retirees
• All the men and women, boys and girls throughout Solomon Islands.
On behalf of the Solomon Islands Government I express our profound gratitude for your support and cooperation in helping to build this country.
I sincerely hope and pray that your experience during this Christmas and New Year festive season will be one of PEACE, LOVE and JOY.
Wherever you celebrate Christmas this year, it is my hope and prayer that you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas.