Posted by: morgan1965 | April 5, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Author Of Community

We honor and give thanks for the birth, life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated fifty years ago on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was struck down by an assassin’s bullet, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He had gone to Memphis to stand in solidarity with the city’s sanitation workers who were on strike in an effort to secure higher wages and better working conditions. The provocative dreamer’s voice was silenced, but the content of his dream was given a renewed voice in the conscience of America.

In 1967, one year before his death, Dr. King published his last book titled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community?” In this book, Dr. King offered an analysis of the state of American race relations. He offered an in-depth diagnosis of the civil rights movement over the previous ten years. Major gains had been achieved on the civil rights front: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Dr. King, however, was well aware of the persistence of racism in America and the need to continue the struggle.

Although King’s leadership and methodology were being challenged by black nationalism and the Black Power movement at that time, Dr. king continued to be optimistic about the effectiveness and appropriateness of “mass nonviolent action and the ballot.” King ended the book with these words: “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.”

Faithfully, until his untimely death, Dr. King preached a message of hope. He wanted to see an end to war, and an end to poverty, and an end to racial injustices. He firmly believed that humankind possessed the resources and the technology to eradicate poverty and to corral global suffering in its many manifestations.

Here we stand today, asking Dr. King’s question: “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?

In the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination, riots broke out in dozens of cities across the nation. There was utter chaos.

Now as then, racism abounds across the land. Poverty continues to increase. Mass incarceration is a growing dilemma in the African American community. Unarmed black males continue to be the victims of police action. Has the King dream turned into a nightmare?

Dr. King would not want us to give up hope, in spite of the rampant racism in our nation today. The life and legacy of Dr. King remind us that we are resurrection people. Dr. King was a resurrection person and he was a committed disciple of Jesus Christ. For him, the Resurrection of Jesus was no idle tale.

Dr. King lived and ministered as an Easter Person. As Easter People, we know that Jesus Christ is the “author of resurrected life.”

So, let us be about the privileged opportunity of living a resurrected life in community with our sisters and brothers. Let us be about the task of authoring community, while erasing chaos.

Think about it!

 

 

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Posted by: morgan1965 | March 31, 2018

The Irony Of Easter & April Fool’s Day

Perhaps there is a bit of irony in the reality that Easter 2018 falls on a Sunday, April 1st. The discovery that Jesus had been raised from death to life occurred on the dawning of the Sabbath day. Mary Magdalene and her friend, Mary, went to see the tomb, but Jesus was not there. Jesus had been raised from the dead. It was Resurrection Sunday. At the empty tomb, the women encountered the resurrection power of an on-time God who had acted on the third day.

April 1st, regardless of what day of the week it falls on, is known as April Fool’s

Day, or All Fool’s Day. The day is characterized by people playing practical jokes or spreading hoaxes. If you are the victim of such a prank, you are called an April Fool.

The women, of course, were terrified after encountering the empty tomb. They immediately reported their experience to the remaining disciples. Luke’s gospel provides this report: “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11)

It was Peter who did not want to be played for a fool, so he got up and ran to the tomb to see for himself.  When he looked into the tomb, “he saw the linen cloths by themselves’ then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (Luke 24:12b)

The report of Jesus’ resurrection was not a hoax, or some kind of sick joke. It was not an idle tale. It was truth. It was the resurrection story.

I am reminded of the song, “Everybody Plays the Fool.” Consider a portion of the lyrics:

“Okay, so your heart is broken

You sit around mopin’

Cryin’ and cryin’

You say you’re even thinkin’ about dyin’

Well, before you do anything rash, dig this”

“Everybody plays the fool sometime

There’s no exception to the rule…”

A weeping Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb. When she bent over to peer into the tomb, she saw two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying. She explained to the angels that she was weeping because her Lord had been taken away and she did not know his new location. She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him. After a brief, but intense conversation, Mary Magdalene finally recognized Jesus. With joy and hope, she went and announced her encounter with Jesus to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

When you accept Jesus as your Risen Lord and Savior, there is an exception to the rule. The disciples and the women were an exception to the rule. Ultimately, they were not fooled, because there was no hoax. They were not “April Fools.”

When we follow Jesus and serve God’s people, it is then that “we are fools for the sake Christ…” (I Corinthians 10a)

Have you seen the Lord?

Think about it!

Posted by: morgan1965 | March 29, 2018

A Tribute To Thelma: My “Big Sister”

I was blessed to have a “big sister,” Thelma Attrue Julia Lyght, who was the oldest of four siblings, two boys and two girls. I am the “baby” in the family.

On Friday, March 16, 2018 we celebrated Thelma’s 82 years of life at Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The celebration was a marvelous musical tribute that honored her as a church musician. Appropriately, her casket bore treble clef signs and sheaths of music, symbolizing her love of music and her devotion to church music.

Thelma learned to play the pipe organ, because our maternal grandfather provided the funds for Thelma to take private organ lessons, as a high school student in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We lived on Arctic Avenue and the church where she practiced was located several blocks away on Pacific Avenue. My frequent assignment was to accompany Thelma when she went to the church for practice and lessons. As an elementary school kid, one can imagine that I was not enamored of this task.

Going with her, of course, robbed me of some valuable time with my playmates after school. Also, during the winter season, the church was always cold. Not only was the church cold, it was big, empty and a little scary, even though the custodian was somewhere on the premises. Thelma’s diligence and faithfulness as an organ student had a precious reward.

On Thursday evening, June 18, 1953, I forgot about my lost time as I watched Thelma take part in her high school graduation ceremony. Our grandfather was there, and he was as proud as a peacock. That night in the Ballroom of the Atlantic City Convention Hall, Thelma played the recessional music for her senior class on the Midmen-Losh pipe organ. She played “Pomp and Circumstance” by Elgar and “War March of the Priests,” from “Athalia” by Mendelssohn. I too was very proud of my big sister. The Lyght family was very proud.

Another exciting moment came when Thelma and William, my big brother, both graduated from Morgan State University in 1958. I remember the picture of them that appeared in the “Baltimore Afro American” newspaper. The joy expressed on their faces inspired me as I followed in their footsteps, entering Morgan as a freshman in 1961. Thelma had majored in English and minored in music. She frequently served as a student assistant accompanist during Sunday chapel services at the Morgan Christian Center. During my years at Morgan, I served as an assistant to the chaplain during the Sunday worship services.

Thelma’s participation as student accompanist in college was preceded by the many times Thelma helped with the music as a teenager at our father’s churches. During her adult years, Thelma could be found helping with the music. Paid or unpaid, she was willing to serve.

I have fond memories of our life together. Thelma was a quiet presence, with a cheerful attitude. She loved to hear a good story or a funny joke. Although she would often erupt into body shaking laughter when hearing something funny, she was not one to tell jokes or funny stories herself. If she did not have something good to say about someone, she did not say anything.

When Thelma heard me preach a sermon, she would take notes. We often would have a conversation about my sermon, and she could tell me exactly what I had talked about, point by point.

Thelma loved God, and she loved the people of God. She loved the church and enjoyed participating in church activities, especially the annual Christian School of Missions sponsored by the Conference United Methodist Women.

It was her love of children that enabled Thelma to be a good tutor. She enjoyed helping students to develop their math and English skills.

When our father was in his most senior years, Thelma became his caregiver.

I thank God for the gift that Thelma was to our family, her church and her community. We will miss her, but we will hold onto our many fond memories.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | February 24, 2018

Let’s Listen To The Children!

The most precious gift that humanity has are the children. Jesus clearly understood the importance and the significance of the children. He greatly valued children. On at least one occasion, folk were bringing their children to him so that he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples erroneously thought that Jesus did not have time for such an activity with the children. Jesus, however, said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

On another day in the ministry of Jesus, the disciples informed Jesus that the people were hungry, but there was no food readily available in their rural setting. The disciples did find one young boy who had brought his lunch with him. Jesus took the fish and loaves of bread (the boy’s lunch) and prayed over them. The disciples then fed more than 5,000 people, with food left over. This boy was resourceful, and as far as we know, cooperative. He answered, yes, when queried about his food resources.

We have heard the proverb that has been used by adults to silence children. Proverb: “Children should be seen and not heard.” In 15th century religious culture, children were expected to remain silent unless an adult spoke to them or asked them to speak. The proverb suggests that children are naive, or uninformed about adult matters.

We live in a time and culture when and where it is essential that we listen to the children. They have a voice, opinions, fears, hopes and dreams. The poet, Arthur Vaso, wrote the poem, “Listen to the Children” (Posted on August 16, 2014). He says:

“We are all immigrants

We all have temporary residence here

This land is ours and theirs, yours and mine

We are humanity, stronger joined than apart

Never turn your back on a hungry child

You may be in the right

Lacking compassion

Makes you wrong

The disciples were scolded

Let the children come unto me he said

Life is filled with hardships, yes we all have suffered

So let your suffering hold some merit

Lay down your guns and loud voices

If only for the children

If you dance and celebrate for them

They shall lead you on to peace on earth

The Children’s Crusade of 1963 was a crucial event for the Civil Rights Movement. The demonstrations by the children opened the eyes of the nation and the world, because of the bold activism of the children and youth in Montgomery, Alabama. Although the children were treated harshly by the segregationists, their participation helped to turn the tide that led to certain gains in Montgomery and in the Civil Rights Movement.

The children (Youth) from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are speaking (2018). Students across the country are speaking. They are speaking out against gun violence. They are speaking out against the assault rifle. They want more than our thoughts and prayers.

Listen to the children.

They are speaking out for life; yes, an opportunity to prepare for living life without fear of being killed at school.

Listen to the children.

The children are saying:

“We are the world,

We are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day

So, let’s start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true we’ll make a better day

Just you and me. (Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie)

Think about it!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | February 19, 2018

Presidents’ Day & The Common Good

During this 2018 President’s holiday weekend, I want to invoke some words from former President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as I ponder my world view. Lincoln in part said: “…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.” I do not want us to lose focus on the words, “government of the people …by the people… for the people.”

When it comes to my world view, it matters not whether I am a democrat or a republican. It does matter that Jesus was neither a democrat, nor a republican. Jesus was one who loved all of humankind so much that he sacrificed his life for all of us, with no exclusions or exceptions.

President Lincoln sought to pursue the common good during his presidency. He presided over a nation engaged in a divisive civil war. His political and moral leadership, however, sought to preserve the union. From his perspective, the right thing to do was to preserve the union for all the people. It was not a matter of republicans and democrats, confederates and yankees, northerners and southerners. It was a matter of a democracy for all the people.

Have we lost the common core that embraces the common good? Some elements of the common good are water systems, highway systems, sewer systems, public transportation, electric grids, telephone grids, air transportation, Medicare, social security, Medicaid, public safety, the judicial system, etc. These are the right things for government to provide for the people. I cannot imagine these major systems being in private hands that are driven by the profit margin. In reality, life transcends the individual and includes all the people, the community. For the common good, society needs to strive to be on moral ground, and embrace the values that are good for all the people.

As a matter of human decency, politicians should strive to do what is right. Christian teachings provide the moral foundation for my world view and values. First, Micah 6:8 gives excellent guidance in determining the common good. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Second, Jesus directs us to love God, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This is the great commandment. We are to care for one another when and where there is a need.

Third, John Wesley outlined our task in plain language in the following quote attributed to him:

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

These three dynamics inform my world view as a Christian. What about you?

As Christians, we help our neighbors through the church and a variety of nonprofit organizations. It is through the government, however, that we help huge segments of our population. It is our moral values that enable society to make right decisions on behalf of the common good.

Let’s take a brief look at the current example in the public eye, the Florida school shooting (17 persons murdered). What about the children? Does anybody care about our children? Will anyone do the right thing to protect our children, as well as all adults? My moral sense on behalf of the common good suggests that we should ban all assault rifles, ban all bump stocks, ban all assault rifle ammunition, and expand the background check protocol.

Let’s allow the conversation to begin by having all members of the House and Senate who have received campaign contributions from the NRA return those contributions. Also, the Congress can refuse to accept all such contributions in the future. These actions would benefit the common good.

Think About It!

 

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump

January 15, 2018

 

Dear President Trump:

Today, January 15, 2018, America is celebrating the 89th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, and fifteen years later (November 2, 1983) a national holiday was established to honor his legacy. Although Dr. King became somewhat of a legend in his own lifetime, his legacy cannot be denied or erased from our American history.

The King legacy is ensconced in the dynamic reality that he disrupted the segregationist norms of the nation. His demonstrations paralyzed and confused public and private power structures. With conviction, he practiced civil disobedience. Love was the regulating ideal for all that he did in leading the nonviolent protest movement in the effort to end racial segregation and discrimination in America.

I note, however, that last Thursday, in a meeting on immigration with lawmakers, it was reported that you made some racially charged comments that disparaged millions of people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries. This language, unfortunately, is an example of your failure to provide moral leadership. You seem to be more content to divide, rather than to unite America.

America, as you know, fought a divisive civil war over the issue of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln in a courageous move issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves in those states that were in rebellion. After the war ended, slavery finally was banned by the ratification of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (December 6, 1865). Slavery, however, was followed by Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation and discrimination in the private and public sectors of our nation.

Dr. King was chosen for leadership as African Americans began to renew the resistance to segregation and discrimination. One example was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ended on December 21, 1957. This boycott was organized and conducted by the Montgomery Improvement Association under the presidency of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During his years of leadership in the civil rights movement, Dr. King met with a variety of people, including the presidents of the United states. He and other civil rights leaders met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in June 1958. It was President Eisenhower who sent in federal troops to enforce integration of the public schools in Little rock, Arkansas. Dr. King’s purpose in meeting with US presidents was to encourage them to utilize the moral persuasion of their office to end segregation and to use their political clout to gain appropriate civil rights legislation.

Dr. King met privately with Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in June of 1960. On February 4, 1961, Dr. King published a letter (“The Nation”, February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President Kennedy and said: “An area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates.” In October 1961, Dr. King met with President Kennedy and urged him to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation. In his own way, President Kennedy helped to pave the way for the ultimate passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson took the presidential reigns from the late President Kennedy, he rose to the occasion and used the moral persuasion and political clout of the oval office, as well as his legislative savvy, to gain passage of the floundering Civil Rights Act.

Mr. President, in times like these, the nation needs moral leadership from the oval office. In Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” ((April 16, 1963), he noted that he had been labeled as an extremist. He countered that argument by referencing some folk who he believed were extremists. “Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? – ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free’.” “Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist?” – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” When a leader does the right thing, that which is prophetic, he/she runs the risk of being labeled an extremist as in the case of Dr. King.

Dr. King went on to say: “…the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?” There are some Americans who want to know whether you are willing and able to be an extremist for right, for justice, for political and economic equality, and for the love of all God’s people?

Finally, Mr. President, you constantly express the desire to “make America great again.” In his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in this speech described what must happen “if America is to be a great nation.” A great nation is one where “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” I share these reflections with you in the spirit of passionate patriotism, abiding peace and devotion to my God and country.

Respectfully and Prayerfully,

ESL

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | January 11, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Epitome of Moral Leadership

Where are our moral leaders today?

America annually honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by observing his birthday (January 15, 1929) with a national holiday. Martin Luther King was reared in a Christian home. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a dedicated lay worker in the church. King and his siblings attended Sunday School regularly. His parents taught him basic moral standards which provided a solid foundation for the development of his personal ethical posture in life.

During his leadership of the modern civil rights movement, King who became an ordained Baptist minister, adopted two ethical/moral standards. First, he embraced love as the regulating ideal for the civil rights movement. Second, he utilized the technique of nonviolent resistance as a strategic tool for resisting the forces of racial segregation and discrimination. King, of course, was a Christian who sought to follow the teachings of Jesus in his public and private life.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing to give his “I Have a Dream” speech, A. Phillip Randolph introduced him as the “moral leader of our nation.” King gave his address while standing in the shadow of one of America’s great moral leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln used his moral leadership in the effort to preserve the union. A century later, King’s moral leadership was at the center of the civil rights movement and the effort to end racial segregation in America.

The nations of the world always have needed moral leaders. Reinhold Niebuhr in His book, “Moral Man And Immoral Society” (1932) argued that there is a “basic difference between the morality of individuals and the morality of collectives, whether races, classes or nations.” We see this concept play out when the U.S. Congress seeks to eliminate Obama Care or health care for the poor. Another example is a tax bill that further enriches the wealthy, rather than provide financial help for the poor and the middle class. It takes moral leaders to lead a political movement that seeks to do the right thing for the good of all the people in the nation.

Who are our moral leaders?

When we look at the world scene, we can identify several moral leaders in our history, past and present: Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Abraham Lincoln, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam and Fannie Crosby as well as others who could be named. Moral leaders lead from their core values that our couched in their faith. We need today’s moral leaders to stand up, and provide moral leadership.

Martin King’s letter (“The Nation,” February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President John F. Kennedy called for a more inclusive America. King envisioned that there would be strong moral leadership on the part of the president, and federal government that would take a stand for right. Among other things, King said: an “area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates. If he were to make it known that he would not participate in any activities in which segregation exists, he would set a clear example for Americans everywhere, of every age, on a simple, easily understood level.”

John F. Kennedy stood up as a moral leader and gave meaningful leadership in the civil rights arena. It is obvious that we are lacking this kind of moral leadership today in the executive branch and the legislative branch of our federal government. There are so many moral issues that face America: civil rights, voting rights, economic opportunities, etc. But who are our moral leaders? Please stand up, and give moral leadership.

Bishop William J. Barber (President, Repairers of the Breach) has called for a moral movement in America, and he is leading a campaign to coordinate a variety of state-based moral movements across the country. “Its overarching aim is to call on clergy, lay people and all people of conscience to join together to put a human face on poverty in this country, reawaken America to its higher moral purpose and build steadfast unity in defense of our most cherished Constitutional and moral traditions.” Such a movement will require our faithful participation in the places where we live, work, play and worship.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was born on January 15, 1929, and began the journey that brought him to a place of moral leadership in America. We thank God for Dr. King, the epitome of moral leadership.

But, where are our moral leaders today?

Think About It!

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 31, 2017

Shining The Light Of Christ In The New Year

As we enter into the 2018 New Year, I am reminded of a Dwight L. Moody story about a ship that was approaching the entrance to the Cleveland harbor from Lake Erie. It was a stormy night, not unlike the storms that we experience in our personal living. The ship’s captain questioned the pilot as to whether they had reached Cleveland. The pilot assured the captain that they were near Cleveland. The captain could only see one light from the light-house as he looked across the rolling waves while his ship heaved in the water. The captain asked: “Where are the lower lights?”

The pilot indicated that the lower lights had gone out. Nevertheless, the pilot believed that they could make the harbor, so they plowed ahead; but, the ship missed the channel. The tragic result was a ship wreck, with lives lost.

Moody helped his hearers to understand that it is Jesus, the Light of the World, who is the great lighthouse. This light never goes out.

When Phillip Bliss heard this story, he was inspired to write the hymn, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning:”

“Brightly beams our Father’s mercy, from His lighthouse evermore; but to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.”

“Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave! Some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.”

Who have been the “lower lights” in your life?” Have you been a “lower light” in someone’s life? I am grateful today for the persons who have been a “lower light” in my life, and have been a guide for me in the midst of life’s storms.

In “The Beatitudes,” Jesus calls us to be lights, lower lights. He says: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on a lampstand, and gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-15)

One way to start being a light to the world, is to keep the light of the Advent candles glowing in our families, neighborhoods, cities, the nation and the world.

First, we can embrace the Light. Let’s “…walk in the light, beautiful light, come where the dewdrops of mercy are bright. Shine all around us by day and by night, Jesus, the Light of the world.”  (Charles Wesley) This is an invitation that we can extend to the people of the world (family, friends, neighbors, strangers). We can help each other to find our way through the storms of life.

Second, keep the candle of HOPE flaming. “For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jesus Christ, therefore, is the foundation of our hope.

Third, keep the candle of LOVE glowing. “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Life is all about relationships, especially our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God loves each one of us.

Fourth, keep the candle of JOY radiant, receptive and giving. “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b) The joy that Jesus exhibited in his life is the joy that will boost our daily living.

Finally, keep the candle of PEACE ignited. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’.” (Isaiah 52:7) Our world surely needs peace makers.

When the storms of life are raging all around us, it is a good thing to “trim your feeble lamp.” Strive to reach the harbor of safety and security, knowing that God cares and will take care of you. Look for the “lower lights.” Also, be a “lower light.”

Moving forward into 2018, let us keep the “lower lights” burning in every possible place.

Think About It!

May God’s Love, Joy and Peace provide you with the foundation for hope-filled living in the New Year. Happy New Year!!!

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 22, 2017

Jesus Is The Prince Of Peace

On the fourth Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Peace. Already, we have lighted the candles of Hope, Love, Joy, and now, Peace. We have breathed the blessing of hope. We have experienced the peace of God’s love. We have entered into the joy of Christ’s salvation. Now, we ponder God’s peace. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

In these present days, we are witnessing a variety issues, including violence and war. This is the Advent Season, however, and we are expecting Jesus. Little wonder that some folk are concerned about the presence of Jesus in the midst of a world that always seems to be turned upside down.

What, then, is the meaning of the statement that Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Isaiah provides an answer:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Consider the words of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus, therefore, is not talking about the absence of war and violence as peace. Jesus is talking about spiritual peace.

As we approach Christmas Day, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of external preparations. The candle of Peace, however, summons us to pause and drink from the fountain of peace, God’s spiritual peace.

Charles A. Tindley in his hymn, “Nothing Between My Soul and the Savior,” declared in the chorus:

“Nothing between my soul and the Savior,

So that His blessed face may be seen;

Nothing preventing the least of His favor,

Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.”

So, in silence, let us go to God in prayer, remembering the words of Mother Teresa: “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.”

Horatio Spafford came to understand God’s peace as expressed in his hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.”

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well with my soul.”

This hymn was written in the midst of a personal tragedy. Spafford found peace, not in his own strength, but in the awesome love of God as manifested in Jesus of Nazareth.

Think About it, and  light the candle of PEACE!

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 17, 2017

The Dimensions of Advent JOY

Advent is indeed a season of personal preparation to receive Jesus anew in one’s heart and one’s spiritual life. It is a season of expectation; expectation that the Christ Child will be born as a gift to all people. This season of the Christian year, however, requires the pilgrim disciple to wait. Waiting, of course, requires an abundance of patience.

Little children, perhaps, are waiting for Santa Claus who they expect to fulfill the wishes on their Christmas list. Teenagers are perhaps wondering how much cash they will receive in their Christmas envelope. Will there be sufficient funds to purchase their most desired thing(s)? Adults are waiting too; but, what are the adults waiting for at Christmas time?

Children who receive gifts at Christmas time are filled with happiness. Teenagers are very happy when they receive a generous amount of cash or a gift card for their favorite store. Often, adults are grateful for whatever gifts come their way, but also find great pleasure in observing the happiness exhibited by the children and teenagers in their life.

An important component of Advent is joy; so, we light the candle of joy on the third Sunday. Joy can be defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Isaac Watts describes Advent Joy in his hymn, “Joy to the World:”

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing…”

Jesus is our most precious gift, because God gave us God’s son. That gift fills the heart with joy.

What is the nature of Christian joy? Paul in the letter to the “Hebrews” said this about joy: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We see here that Jesus had joy in his life. We too want to have joy in our life, in the good times and the difficult situations.

In the Advent Season, we light candles. First, we light the candle of hope, even in the midst of death, destruction and seeming hopelessness. Second, we light the candle of love which engenders the warmth of renewal and restoration. Third, we light the candle of joy, because Jesus makes us glad. The Joy Advent candle should be kept burning all year round. When we identify and express our gratitude, it becomes a manifestation of our joy. To acknowledge the joy in one’s life, enables a person to become more joyful and happy.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” (Denis Waitley) It is appropriate and meaningful for one to cultivate gratitude. What are the things in your life for which you are grateful?

One thing among others continues to bring joy to my heart. I am grateful for my doctors who did not stop asking questions until they determined what was the cause of my illness a few years ago. They did not give up on me, but gifted me with their quest for solutions. More than ever before, I give thanks for good and caring physicians. Looking back turns my heart to gratitude.

In what ways is the Christ child being revealed to you in this Advent season? Just how is Jesus acting in your life? The list of his actions brings joy when we take the time to identify the presence of Jesus in our life. I experienced the presence of Jesus recently when I visited a young stroke patient who is steadily regaining her health. At a recent funeral service, I recalled with thanksgiving and joy the life of a woman who had joined the church early in my pastoral tenure. She blessed that congregation, the community and her family with her abiding love and service during her 91 years of living.

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.

 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5) [ESV]

Like little children, let us cultivate joy in our daily lives, and enter into the joy of anticipation as we relish Christ’s joy, acknowledging that we are waiting for him.

Let’s look for God’s joy on the journey. Start Looking!

 

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