Posted by: morgan1965 | January 1, 2020

New Destinations in the New Year

The calendar tells us that we have entered into a New Year, 2020. This New Year indicates another start, an opportunity for fresh beginnings in all of our endeavors. The first day of the New Year marks a transition, a time when we look back and we look forward to the future.

When we look back across the year 2019, we are reminded that we have witnessed numerous events which have helped to shape our lives. In all likelihood, you probably paused to name some of these events before God in your prayers, especially during the Thanksgiving Season and our New Year’s Eve celebrations. When you paused to think about it, you named some of these events with grateful praise, and others with personal confession. Some events were contrasted between deep sorrow or joyful celebration.

These events perhaps have left you with a heartfelt need, or a difficult challenge or a surprise blessing. Your life has been punctuated by meaningful events that were family affairs. Some events have a way of changing us in a personal way, deep and profound. Other events might have unfolded in the life of your faith community, or your neighborhood community, or our nation, or our world.

When we look forward to the months of the New Year, there is a tendency to keep glancing back. Life is a journey and it is continuous. This journey is often measured in years, a factor in time. The journey is also measured by direction, where you are going. Where you are going is much more important than where you have been. As you go forward, don’t just travel where the visible path leads you. In this New Year, go where there is no path, and allow yourself to be the one who leaves a trail.

As you journey in this New Year, always remember that God is with you. Our God is an awesome God. Our God travels before us as “a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.” We will always be able to see God’s leading, when we decide to follow Jesus.

When you decide to follow Jesus, let there be no turning back.

When you put worldly things behind you, let here be no turning back.

When your friends desert you, let there be no turning back.

When you visualize the cross before you, let there be no turning back.

Remember the words of Jesus: I am the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6a). Jesus is the way to God, and Jesus is the way in life.

Pray About It! Think About It! Get Going!

Posted by: morgan1965 | November 30, 2019

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

The official 2019 Thanksgiving Day celebration is over. We know, however, that every day is a day of giving thanks (Thanksgiving). The scripture reminds us to give thanks: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you [I Thessalonians 5:15-18].

Psalm 136 says: O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever [vs. 1]. This note of thanksgiving is repeated in the first three verses of the psalm. The psalmist then proceeds to outline in great detail (23 verses) the many reasons that he desires to give thanks to God.  The core reason for giving thanks to God is the reality of God’s steadfast love. We also observe that there is joy in giving thanks.

Over the years of my spiritual journey, I have come to understand that I need to let my mind think thanks so that my attitude might be one of gratitude. From a spiritual perspective, thanksgiving is the practice of gratitude.

Although Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, it offers an excellent opportunity for Christians to pause and take an introspective look at one’s life. What has happened since the last Thanksgiving was observed a year ago? Let’s call this a gratitude check. What are the happenings in your life that you are grateful for? In what ways has God been present in your life? As you daily, weekly and monthly think about God’s many blessings in your life, have you been cultivating an attitude of gratitude?

God’s amazing grace is so abundant that when we stop and think about God’s grace, we are moved to a feeling of thankfulness and gratitude.

One day Jesus healed ten lepers, and declared that it was their faith that healed them. The ten men left to show themselves to the priest. But one of them, the Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus when he realized that he had been healed (Luke 17:11-19). The Samaritan immediately upon realizing that he had been healed, desired to express his gratitude. It can be argued that his gratefulness led to his happiness. The African American Spiritual articulates such gratitude and joy this way:

I’m so glad Jesus lifted me,

Singing glory, hallelujah! Jesus lifted me. 

When I pause to think about God’s goodness this past year, I just want to say Thank you, Lord!

Think About It!

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | September 19, 2019

Open Doors & A Spirit of Welcome

Through the years, I have been intrigued by Psalm 122, especially the first verse which says: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” The psalmist manifests anticipation, joy, expectation, thanksgiving and welcome. It seems that the psalmist was pleased to receive an invitation to go to the house of the Lord. He anticipated a warm welcome and a spiritual experience.

I grew up in the black church tradition as experienced in Methodist Churches that were characterized by a warm welcome and a spiritual experience. These Methodist churches were a part of the former Delaware Conference of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction. I always felt a sense of welcome in the several local churches that nurtured me as a child, teenager and young adult: Metropolitan UMC in Princess Anne, MD; St. Daniels UMC, Chester, PA; Asbury UMC, Atlantic City, NJ; Haven UMC in Wilmington, DL; and Ezion UMC in Wilmington. These congregations freely embraced all the folk who entered the sanctuary for worship and fellowship.

In practical terms, these churches had doors that swung on welcome hinges. There was no discrimination. All people were welcome without regard to race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. As a child, I knew that I would not be welcome at the white Methodist church in our town. I knew, however, that white people would be welcome at our church. But white folk almost never came to our church, except on race relations Sunday, which was a once a year attempt to demonstrate that we were brothers and sisters in Methodism.

I was hopeful when around 20001, the United Methodist Church adopted a brand – Open hearts, Open minds. Open doors. This brand is supposed to be a symbol of welcome. Yet, we know that some UM churches apparently are not welcoming to certain people, particularly members of the LGBTQIA community. I have wondered how any UM congregation could discriminate or exclude people. Such exclusion, is contrary to my experience in the black church tradition.

Some UM congregations have joined the Reconciling Ministries Network. These congregations have a declared commitment to seek liberation for LGBTQIA persons. RMN congregations stand for diversity, inclusion and justice among other things. A UM church in Kenya recently voted to identify as reconciling. It is reported that this is the first African congregation to do so. RMN congregations want to demonstrate their openness and commitment to inclusivity. Should not this stance, however, be a part of the ethos of every UM congregation?

Every local church has a welcome table which in liturgical language, we call the communion table. In our communion ritual the celebrant says: Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another. Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another. United Methodist congregations set an open communion table. The celebrant extends a grace filled welcome to all who choose to come to the table.

The black Methodist churches have traditionally been churches with open doors. There is always room at the table for those who desire to come. There is room at the table and there is room in the pews. I am reminded of the spirit set forth in the song, Plenty Good Room:

Plenty good room, plenty good room,

plenty good room in my Father’s kingdom,

Plenty good room, plenty good room,

just choose your seat and sit down.

Since God provides a place and space for everyone, surely, we can do the same in our churches. I am accustomed to congregations and a religious tradition that welcomes all people. The church should be about welcome doors and an open table that welcomes all of God’s people.

In spite of the racism of a denomination that embodied the segregated Central Jurisdiction, black folk have remained at the table. From the beginning of Methodism in America, black Methodist stayed at the table which at times has not been welcoming. Nevertheless, Black Methodists are seated at the table, celebrating church doors that swing on welcome hinges and communion tables that welcome all of God’s people by providing plenty good room.

Think About It!

Posted by: morgan1965 | August 7, 2019

The following statement by Rev. Gil Caldwell is a cogent response to my recent blog, “Racism is…” 
“I, as a non-professional writer, “write on, write on”, with little concern about how many persons read what I write. But Bishop Lyght’s Blog re: Racism, has prompted me to write this and request that he post it. I am deeply concerned about the ways covert expressions of racism, have become overt, that push to the “rear of the bus”, the racial progress we have made. I begin  by stating as clearly as I can, that I believe the 2020 session of the UMC General Conference must make a faith-based decision to place the confrontation and transformation of racism as THE “Way Forward” for the United Methodist Church. If Progressive, Traditionalist, and Centric United Methodist delegates agreed to do this, our impasse over homosexuality could be resolved.
A United Methodist Church united in its resistance to racism, cannot continue to make resistance to “The practice of homosexuality” its major theme. God nor history will  be kind to us if a UMC in 2020 divides in response to homosexuality, as its predecessors divided over slavery and racial segregation. Some thoughts:
1. I have been misunderstood by some as I have shared my personal stories of being refused entrance to white only Methodist Churches, segregation at Lake Junaluska, and denied admission to Duke Divinity School, because of my race. All in my home state of North Carolina. I sought not to evoke guilt, nor ask for a “pity party”, but to a) Urge frank and honest reflection on how God, Jesus, and the Bible justified Methodist racial segregation. b) And to urge public testimonial witness, sharing, describing, of why and how Methodism moved from Bible-based racial segregation to racial integration. This testimony would make foolish,
our current debate.
2. “Buyer’s Remorse”: Throughout the USA, there are persons who reflect on their vote for President Trump, and are now beginning to regret their vote. The same is true for some voters for and supporters of the UMC “Traditional Plan.” The apostle Paul said something like this: “That I ought not do, I do. That I ought do, I do not.” ALL of us have, “been there, and done that.”. United Methodists, let us be like Paul and make our confessions to each other. Our unity is rooted in our imperfectness, and not in our pretensions of perfection. Who said: “Methodists are on their way to perfection, but do not expect to get there in this life.”
3. “The Confessions of Three Ebony Bishops”, Bishops, Ammons, Keaton, Lyght, Abington, 2008. I dare to suggest that the election of Ebony Bishops, by the UMC, and before the UMC, represents “The Racial Story,
The UMC ought sing to the nation and the world” about how despite racism, past and present in Methodism, slavery and segregation have been cast aside as Black Bishops have been elected and assigned, to places where anti-Black racism has been widespread. The state of Mississippi that Nina Simone sang about, the state where three Civil Rights workers, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, One Black, two white were killed, where Emmett Till was beaten, disfigured and killed, and where Bishop Charles Golden, Black, and Bishop James Mathews, White, were not allowed to worship at Galloway Memorial Church; is the state where Ebony Bishop James Swanson presides. I believe the confessions, testimonies, witness, and pastoral/prophetic God-given gifts, Ebony Bishops possess, whether they are American or African, they can be in the forefront as “Wounded Healers” of a United Methodist Church, on the edge of committing suicide.
There is a reason “Lift Every Voice And Sing” is in our UMC Hymnal. Those of us “Who have come over a way that with tears has been watered, trodding our path through the blood of the slaughtered”, are called by God and led by Jesus, to be Foundation Cornerstones, rejected yes, but Healers, Nevertheless. Amen and Amen!”
Rev. Gil Caldwell
A retired Elder, member of the Mountain Sky Conference
Asbury Park, New Jersey/USA
Posted by: morgan1965 | August 2, 2019

Racism is …

POTUS has accused two prominent African Americans, Congressman Elijah Cummings and Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, of being a racist. He is wrong.  Apparently, he does not know what the word means. He is wrong because an African American, and other minorities, do not possess the institutional power to negatively impact the lives of white people.

What is racism?  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Racism also is discrimination or prejudice based on race. A racist has the power to enact his/her discrimination and prejudice on a racial minority person.

The late Dr. George D. Kelsey wrote a book titled, “Racism and the Christian Understanding of Man” in which he described racism as a religion and an ideology. Kelsey said: Racism is human alienation purely and simply; it is the prototype of all human alienation. It is the one form of human conflict that divides human beings as human beings. That which the racist glorifies in himself is his being. And that which he scorns and rejects in members of out-races is precisely their human being. Although the racist line of demarcation and hostility inevitably finds expression through the institutions of society, it is not primarily a cultural, political or economic boundary. Rather, it is a boundary of estrangement in the order of human beings as such.”

This concept has manifested itself in a variety of ways. For example, during the slavery era, blacks were considered to be property. An outcome of the 1787 Philadelphia Convention was an agreement that slaves were to be considered to be three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and representation. From slavery on, blacks have been considered inferior to whites. Racism is implemented in various forms of discrimination, such as hiring, firing, and promotion. Although slavery has been outlawed for more than a century, racism still abounds in America. Racism has a variety of manifestations in modern day America.

President Barack Obama, during his presidency, was the most powerful African American. His presidential power, however, was undermined due to organized resistance by the Republicans in Congress. Let me illustrate this point by recalling Obama’s appointment of a Supreme Court justice in the last year of his presidency. The U.S. Senate refused to give any consideration to his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Although President Obama held the most powerful office in the nation, his power was often neutralized, suppressed, ignored, mitigated, or blocked. The ring leader in this subterfuge was Senator Mitch McConnell. It was political warfare against an African American president. The attack was unprecedented.

Reinhold Niebuhr once said: “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Numerous pundits argue that our democracy is under assault, because of the antics of the POTUS who has no inhibition about publicly displaying his racism.

Earlier in this blog I noted that an African American cannot be a racist. It is true, however, that African Americans, like any other group of people, can be prejudiced. Like racism, prejudice, is evil. Dr. Martin Luther King would urge all Americans to love. Jesus implores us to love one another. But Reinhold Niebuhr issued a warning: “Goodness, armed with power, is corrupted; and pure love without power is destroyed.” There is power in prayer. There is power in love. There is power in the ballot.

Think About It!

Posted by: morgan1965 | July 22, 2019

Inspired By Dr. James H. Cone

I heartily commend to every minister Dr. James Cone’s last book, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody.” James Cone was broadly recognized as the creative founder of black liberation theology. In his theology, Cone helped the theological community to bring into focus the relationship between black power and black theology. He did this in part through a comparative examination of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Gospel teaching and Malcolm X’s message of black pride.

This book is must reading for several reasons. First, I deeply appreciated Cone’s memoir, because it is not a biography of his life journey; rather, it is a chronicle of his theological pilgrimage. He candidly talks about how he removed his mask (revealing the real James Cone) and began to write about black theology. The reader can see the picture of how Cone progressed in his theological development and understanding.

Second, I was inspired by Dr. Cone’s commitment to lifelong learning. Throughout his career, Cone remained grounded in the core of his thinking which was black theology. That was often a lonely position that exposed him to a great deal of criticism. He knew that it would be profitable for him to listen to his critics and dialogue with them, because he believed that he could learn from them. He engaged other black scholars (Howard Thurman, Gayraud Wilmore, Charles Long, C. Eric Lincoln, et al) who encouraged him along with their critiques. His white academic colleagues (Reinhold Niebuhr, et al) challenged his work, but embraced him as a colleague scholar. Cone also notes that he learned from his students (Delores Williams, et al) and appreciated his conversations with them, including some who went on to become theologians themselves. Cone also garnered significant insights from the writings of James Baldwin.

A third dynamic that nurtured me was Cone’s conversation about theology from the perspective of a black theologian who was a Bart scholar. Cone said that “no theology is universal” (p. 112). It was his belief that “all theology begins with experience” (p. 112). Black theology as articulated by James Cone had its roots in his experiences as an African American who grew up in the south. His continuing life experiences informed his theology, but he acknowledges with profound gratitude how both his father and mother were a strong influence in shaping his character. In short, Cone’s expressions of black theology emerged out of his blackness.

Fourth, James Cone inspires every minister to be a theologian. He says, “theology is thinking about God who escapes our comprehension” (p. 114). He also encourages the reader that the way to do one’s theology is to think about it and then write about it. In reading Cone’s theology, one readily sees the breath and scope of Cones reading, research, study and preparation.

A fifth dimension is Cone’s choice of his “favorite” book, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” which took him about ten years to research and write. This particular book, of course, raises the question of theodicy. The “righteous” suffer, but why do they suffer? Blacks have traditionally identified with Jesus because Jesus suffered with blacks. Jesus died on the cross and numerous black folks have died on the lynching tree. African Americans are still being lynched today in spite of having embraced the cross at the center of black religion. This matter requires further thinking and conversation.

I commend this book to all ministers and laity, black and white. It is a book about the making of a black theologian, James Cone. The book offers explanation, clarification and inspiration to the reader.

 

James H. Cone, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody,” New York: Maryknoll, 2018.

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | June 14, 2019

The UMC: Finding A Way Forward

The Commission on the Way Forward was given a rather specific task. They faithfully did their work and completed their task. Did the members of the United Methodist Church understand this task? Did folk have an expectation that was not congruent with the Commission’s task?

Now, take a deep breath. Let’s ponder these and a few other questions.

In my March 19, 2019 blog, I began with three questions: (1) Did God speak to the 2019 Special United Methodist General Conference? (2) If God spoke, what did God say? (3) Whose prayers did God answer? This same blog ended with two additional questions: (1) What is God saying to the United Methodist Church? (2) Are we listening to God? These questions compel us to go back to General Conference 2016.

In response to a request from the 2016 General Conference, the bishops said: “Your bishops are honored to receive the request of the General Conference to help lead our United Methodist Church forward during this time of both great crisis and great opportunity.” The bishops also said: “We seek, in this Kairos moment, a way forward for profound unity on human sexuality and other matters. This deep unity allows for a variety of expressions to coexist in one church. Within the Church, we are called to work and pray for more Christlike unity with each other, rather than separation from one another.”

The desire was to “lead the church toward new behaviors, a new way of being and new forms and structures which allow a unity of our mission of Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” There would be allowance for “differing expressions as a global church.” The Council of Bishops named a Commission to work on this task.

The Commission was tasked with the responsibility of recommending a way forward. The context was and continues to be the debate over human sexuality, homosexuality, ordination and same gender marriage. The COB noted that “our current Discipline contains language which is contradictory, unnecessarily hurtful, and inadequate for the variety of local, regional, and global contexts.” The Commission subsequently completed its work and reported to the COB in a spirit of collaboration.

The Special General Conference received a report from the Commission that included three plans: The Traditional Plan, The One Church Plan and the Connectional Church Plan. Also, other plans were presented to the General Conference for consideration. The COB recommended the One Church Plan as presented by the Commission, however, after much debate, the General Conference adopted the Traditional Plan. It is important to note that the Commission did what it was asked to do, and that was to develop a plan for a way forward. That plan, however, was grounded in polity rather than theology. The Commission was not asked to resolve our theological differences in the arena of human sexuality. It sought to offer a way forward in light of, and in spite of, our differences.

The reality is that the United Methodist Church has never developed a theology of human sexuality. We need more than a definition of marriage; we need a theology of marriage.

The Traditional Plan at best marks the status quo, and at worst, it is a treacherous step backward. It does not move us forward in our theology and our ecclesiology. The One Church Plan would have allowed the church to live together and function as a denomination in mission in spite of our differences. In the meantime, the whole church could work on the development of a theology of human sexuality and a theology of marriage while continuing to engage in ministry and mission. Surely the United Methodist Church will continue to be faithful to the challenge of discerning God’s will in these matters.

Remember what Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6a). Are we on the way (path) with Jesus? Are we in a posture of discerning the truth that Jesus desires for the UMC? Does not the Jesus way and the Jesus truth lead to new life in Jesus Christ?

Think About It!

Posted by: morgan1965 | March 19, 2019

Special UMC General Conference: Did God Speak?

Did God speak to the Special United Methodist Church General Conference, recently convened in St Louis, Missouri? If God spoke, what did God say? Whose prayers did God answer?

Perhaps many people believe that God did speak to the Special General Conference. After all, the Conference spent all of a day in prayer, prior to the start of the three-day Conference. Surely there was sufficient opportunity for God to speak during a four-day period of time. If God spoke, when did God speak and what did God say?

Consider the time when Elijah met God at Horeb. As directed by God, Elijah went out and stood on the mountain, waiting for God to pass by. First, there was a great wind, but the Lord was not in the wind. Second, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Third, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Then there was “a sound of sheer silence.” It was in the silence that Elijah heard the Lord’s voice (See I Kings 19:11-13).

Even when God speaks, there can be confusion in discerning that God is speaking and what it is that God is saying. In the midst of the debate during the General Conference one day, I heard what sounded like a clap of thunder. In that moment of discernment, a bishop friend who was sitting beside me recalled the passage of scripture about the time when Jesus spoke about his own death.  While Jesus was speaking, a voice came from heaven. The scripture says: The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. ‘Others said, an angel has spoken to him’ (John 12:27-36). Not everyone around me at the time heard the thunder; some folk heard it and others did not.

If God spoke to the Special General Conference, in what manner did God speak? Did God speak during the all-day prayer session? Perhaps God spoke through the report of the Commission on the Way forward. God might have addressed the Conference in one of the Plans that was presented. Also, did God speak through one or more of the multiple delegates who addressed the assembly at various times?

The bishops and the delegates all prayed to God asking God to be present in the midst of the Conference, with the hope that God would lead and guide the delegates in their decision making and voting. We prayed to God long before we arrived in St. Louis. Did God hear our prayers?

President Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, witnessed the sound defeat of the Union troops by the Confederate army in September 1862 at Manassas Junction, Virginia. Lincoln’s mood was somber afterward. Finally, Lincoln wrote a private reflection in which he sought to discern God’s will among the numerous voices after the disastrous defeat. Lincoln wrote:

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his purpose. I am almost ready to say this is probably true – that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contests proceeds. 

Some folk favored the One Church Plan while some folk opted for the Traditional Plan. I wonder which plan God favors. I don’t know. I do know that the Traditional Plan prevailed by a vote of 438 to 384, and this plan reinforces the United Methodist Church’s prohibition against same-sex unions and the ordination of “self-avowed practicing” gay persons. All the concerned parties and constituents prayed to the same God. The General Conference spoke. But, did God speak? If God spoke, what did God say to the United Methodist Church?

What is God saying to the United Methodist Church? As we ponder this question, it is helpful to remember that Jesus raised Lazarus after he had been in the tomb for four days. God raised Jesus on the third day. The point to note is that we have an on-time God who operates on God’s time.

Are we listening for God’s voice?

Think About It!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | February 18, 2019

Sixteen Nineteen: Coming to America

The year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the twenty Negroes who were left at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. They were deposited at Jamestown by the captain of a Dutch frigate. This event marked the beginning of the involuntary importation of men, women and children onto the mainland. This slavery did not end until after more than two hundred years had elapsed.

The colonists merely saw the introduction of slavery as one aspect of a multifaceted economic reality. Little attention was given to the status of the newly arrived Negroes. Simultaneously, there was little notice of their place in the evolving life of the Virginia colony.

As we celebrate Afro American History month, let us note a few observations about slavery in America. First, the journey to America on slave ships was harsh, brutal and inhuman. The slaves were subjected to tight packing in a ship’s cargo hold. They were faced with unsanitary conditions that often led to illness and even death for some.

Second, the new slaves were placed in a seasoning process to prepare them for their life of providing free labor for their master. This seasoning process often was conducted in the Caribbean Islands prior to arrival in America. The purpose of the seasoning process was to break the spirit of the men and women so that they could be more readily controlled. The slaves, therefore, would be more open to learning the details of their new work.

Third, it was a common practice to separate husbands and wives as well as separating children from their parents. This practice perhaps served as a stimulus for solidifying the extended family in the black community.

The life of a slave in America was extremely difficult. James Weldon Johnson [1] characterized it in this way:

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? 

Looking back over four centuries since slavery was introduced in America, we can see the impact and the imprint of the numerous efforts to denigrate black Americans. When the Civil War ended, it was followed by the full emancipation of slaves across the nation. However, emancipation was succeeded by Jim Crow, segregation, terrorism (lynching, the Ku Klux Klan), and racism.

James Weldon Johnson further characterized the journey:

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered;

We have come, treading our path thru the blood of the slaughtered,

Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star has cast.

We now observe the 400-year anniversary when 20 Negroes were brought to Jamestown. These four hundred years have been a journey from slavery to freedom. Now there is a struggle to free America from the grips of racism and white privilege in the land of the “free.”

Where do we go from here? Has anything changed for black Americans? To be sure, the “God of our wary years,” and the “God of our silent tears” is ever present.This God will continue to be a beacon into the future, a future with hope. So, all Americans sing:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
[2]


Think About It! Pray About It!! Amen!!!
[1] James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

[2] Irving Berlin, “God Bless America”

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 31, 2018

Connections: Endings and Beginnings

The end of the year is a time when we tend to review the year that is coming to a close. Lists of “celebrities” who died during the year capture our attention. Catastrophic events are summarized in the media. On a more personal level, as we look back across the year, we recount the several events which have helped to mold and shape our lives.

The variety of events that we have experienced during the past year are accompanied by different feelings. At the same time, we are looking forward to the new year, and hoping that life will be different, or better than the year just ending.  Prayer, always serves as a dependable connector between the old and the new year.

What events have touched your life this past year, 2018? What were your feelings in relationship to these experiences? This year, I celebrated my 75th birthday, so I turned to God with CELEBRATION. When my big sister died, I turned to God in SORROW. When I realized that I had not fulfilled my personal goals for the year, I prayed to God in CONFESSION. The touch of God’s healing hand during and after my surgery caused me to lift my voice to God in PRAISE. When we experience such events, they might deposit with us a specific need, an awesome challenge or a rich blessing.

Extraordinary events are not confined to our personal lives. What about meaningful family events? How about life changing personal events? Have there been some exceptional events in the life of your church. What about life altering events in the fabric of your community, or our nation or our world?

All these concerns we can offer to God in prayer at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.

Remember that we are looking forward, now, not back. There is a parable that reminds us that there are two ways to drive a car. When we look at the road we can determine where we are going (action). When we are looking in the rear-view mirror, we see where we have been (non-action). The new year requires us to look forward, move forward and follow the Light of Christ.

There is another parable that suggests that we should not necessarily go where the path leads us. On the other hand, we ought to take courage and go where there is no path. When we do this, we will blaze a new trail for others to follow to new places and new experiences and a fresh relationship with God.

As we seek to find our way in 2019, let us remember that Jesus gives us solid directions. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) It is in knowing Jesus that we find the way, and the journey is home.

Always remember that as you travel, God is with you.

Pray About It and Get Started!

Happy New Year!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Older Posts »

Categories