Tags: Rev. Ronald E. Braxton, Sermon
Rev. Dr. Ronald M. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Scripture Lesson: Luke 19: 28-44: God’s Personal Visit. 28-31After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. When he got near Bethpage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says anything, asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘His Master needs him.’” 32-33The two left and found it just as he said. As they were untying the colt, its owners said, “What are you doing untying the colt?” 34They said, “His Master needs him.” 35-36They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street. 37-38Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places! 39Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” 40But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.” 41-44When the city came into view, he wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.” (The Message Bible translation)
I’d like to lift up verses 35, 36, and parts of 37 and 39 of the scripture today: 35-36“As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street. 37-38Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places!” The crowd of Jesus’ disciples burst into enthusiastic praise when Jesus rode the colt to Jerusalem. But see verse 39, where the Pharisees tell Jesus: “Get your disciples under control!” But Jesus’ response was: “If only you had recognized this day, you might have been saved. But it’s too late now, because in the days ahead, your enemies will bring their heavy artillery against you; not one stone will be left intact because you did not recognize God’s personal visit.”
I want to speak today on the subject: “Living a Marked Life.” Jesus spent the last three years of his life in active ministry. In the Gospel, we see him busy, moving from towns to hamlets, engaged in active ministry. It was not just his message, but his healings, his deeds of goodness, that set him apart, that affected people’s lives in a different way. It was clear that Jesus was anointed, set apart, marked by God for this ministry. He touched so many that the word went out about him and his work. But let me give you some “nevers” to learn from Jesus’ experience: 1. Never think your hard work or good deeds will be appreciated by everyone; and 2. Never work to please and to be appreciated by everyone; rather, give God a good days work and let the chips fall where they may. Let the work you do speak for the God in you.
Despite the fact that he had much opposition, Jesus was not overly bothered by his opponents; He kept working for the kingdom. This trip to Jerusalem took courage because his ministry stirred up contempt form the politicos. He was a marked man living a marked life. He was marked by Herod at his birth, and by Satan at his baptism; he was taunted in his hometown as a nobody; and criticized by the Pharisees and Sadducees as a rabble-rouser, a troublemaker, and a church. Jesus was also marked by God. His entry into Jerusalem contains a message on how to live a marked life. If you live for the enhancement of others, know that you will live a marked life. Your enemies will appear; your family and your friends will try to make you feel like you know less than you know; your co-workers and even your bosses will become envious. You might ask: What have I done to make this race so hard to run? If you live for Christ, rest assured, you will live a marked life. Here are some tools to help you if you are living a marked life.
1. Never fear what’s up ahead. Live with a superlative courage! Jesus knew he was a marked man. But he was clear about his destiny. When you live for God, never fear your future; never fear the craters ahead, because God has your back! You will never accomplish much living in fear of what lies ahead. If you take one step, God will run ahead and make a way out of no way. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self -control.” “The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”
2. Live with enthusiasm and excitement! From the scripture, you can see that Jesus’ disciples were excited people. So much so, that in verse 39, the Pharisees said to Jesus: “You better get control of these people!” The crowd was excited because they all knew what Jesus had done for them. The 10 lepers that Jesus had healed were in that crowd. Blind Bartholomew was there. The lame man at the pool of Bethesda who took up his bed was there. The woman with the issue of blood; the man with the demons inside him; the 5000 people who were fed with the two fishes – they were all there in the crowd cheering Jesus! Mary, Jesus’ mother, the disciples were all there – they could not help but to be enthusiastic.
When it comes to your faith-life, know that you are living a marked life. But no matter what happens, never lose your zeal. You ought to get excited about the goodness of God in your life. People ought to get so tired of having you talk about your God and your church that they say, “Oh no, don’t get them started…” If you are working for God, you are living a marked life; there are no excuses for a dead, dry church; there out to be some excitement, some joy, some enthusiasm in your life!
3. Whatever is put on you, honor God with every fiber of your being! When you are living a marked life, no matter what happens, God will keep you from falling apart or drifting away. When you choose to honor God, you can keep your head straight and your shoulders back. When you choose not to honor God, you live a spineless life; things temporarily fall apart in your life. Peter denied Jesus, he was not honoring God at that moment. The same crowd that cried “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday cried “Crucify Him” on Good Friday. If you choose not to honor God, your life will have no hope, no faith, no loyalty; you will just be “floating from pillar to post.”
But if you honor God, when you get to your Calvary, He will be there with you; He will be there when they scorn you – not only in the bad times but in the good times too! When the good stuff comes, He’ll wake you up in the morning. When the doctor gives you some bad news, He will pick you up and turn you around! So whatever is put on you, honor God, no matter what you are going through!
Tags: Jesus, Palm Sunday, Sermon
The Married Couples Ministry meets every fourth Saturday at 3:00 pm. Meetings start with devotion at 3:00 pm. Presentations start at 3:30 pm. Our schedule is as follows:
March 27: Natalie Hopkinson, “Hip Hop and Go-Go Music – Breaking it Down for the Motown Generation”
April 24: Jacqueline Coleman, “HIV/AIDS: What You Need to Know in 2010″
May 22: James Turner, “Climate Change and El Nino for the Layperson”
Tags: Married Couples Ministsry, Ministry Meetings and Events
Rev. Dr. Ronald M. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Scripture Lesson Isaiah 43: 16-21: 16 This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
Have you ever been in a situation in which you need to hear a good word? In the scripture, the Israelites found themselves in a bad way; they had lost everything. Their homes had been ravaged, families were broken up, their livelihoods were lost. Their worship and their faith had been put to the test and had come up short. Where was their God that had delivered them from Pharaoh’s Army? Where was their God who had spoken to Moses through the burning bush; who had parted the Red Sea; who had drawn water from a rock; who had provided manna from the sky for them to eat every day? Had God gone back on His word to be with them always?
The worst is when your faith and worship come up short; because that’s the only thing you have left to hold onto. Such was the crisis of the Israelites.
Change and transition in life can become most challenging. We get comfortable with things as they are. Here is some “breaking news” for you: Life has its own peculiar way of breaking up our “comfort levels”. Nothing can remain the same. Breaking up and breaking through is necessary to get to the next level. It’s painful; it’s not easy. Today, many are facing the challenges of the financial crisis, loss of a job, home foreclosure, a good marriage gone bad. Change and transition alone bring their own strife.
The scripture says at verse 19: “I am about to a new thing”. When God says that, you need to get ready to go through some stuff!
Everyone experiences transition, breaking up situations, life-altering moments. Then out of nowhere, a friend, a relative – or even a stranger – calls, with just the encouragement that you needed to hear at the right time. The right word at the right moment can make all the difference in your life; it can be your sunshine on a cloudy day, on a day when you wanted to just throw in the towel.
For the Israelites, they needed an encouraging word from God. Jesus went to the garden to experience a word from God before his Good Friday. He said: “Father, I need a word, a GOOD word, to get through this.”
Brothers and Sisters, the scripture today brings us a good word from God; a word of hope, encouragement, comfort, and joy.
1. God Cares about You! Verses 20 and 21 of the scripture says: 20 “The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Know that God personally cares for YOU; in His eyes, you are a winner – no matter what life throws in your path. Rest assured that you can say to yourself in worst of your crisis: “He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own!” You can cry out in the midst of it all: “Jesus love me, this I know!”
2. God is Able! One good word is that “God cares about you!” Another good word is: God is able! He makes a way out of no way; He brings chariots, armies, water, a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Verse 20 says: “The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen…” In the midst of all your challenges, the good word is that GOD IS ABLE to deliver you, to carry you through, to turn your darkness into light. When the doctor says he doesn’t know what to do, God is able. God makes your enemy your footstool; He is able to do what is impossible.
3. God is About to Do a NEW THING in you! Verse 18-19 says: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Yesterday’s blessings are overshadowed by what God is doing in you today. There is no need for you to rely on your PAST. God says: “Don’t even remember the former things, because I am about to do a NEW THING in you”. Don’t consider what you did yesterday, don’t think about what your Momma did for you, what your Granddaddy did for you – God says: “I am about to do a NEW THING.” But you are going to have to go through some things to get there. It’s like when the dentist says: “This won’t hurt a bit…” you know to get ready for some pain!
When you hear God say: “I am about to do a new thing”, keep in mind these three words: Hold…Keep…Trust: HOLD on! KEEP faith in God. TRUST in the Lord.
No matter how heavy the burden – HOLD on! No matter how dark the moment –KEEP your faith in God! No matter that the bills are coming due and you don’t have the money in the bank – TRUST in the Lord!
This is a good word for you today:
Beams of heaven as I go,
through the wilderness below,
guide my feet in peaceful ways,
turn my midnights into days.
When in the darkness I would grope,
faith always sees a star of hope,
and soon from all life’s grief and danger
I shall be free someday.
I do not know how long ’twill be,
nor what the future holds for me,
but this I know: if Jesus leads me,
I shall get home someday.
By Charles Albert Tindlay
Table of Contents
Celebrating a Centenarian: Deaconess Wilma G. Shepherd
Making God Real
Playing with Three Strings
Restoring Our Legacy - Insuring Our Future
Restoration: Frequently Asked Questions
Reflections: The Seniors’ Perspective
Becoming a Member of Metropolitan AME Church
Usher Notes: A Tribute to the Late Ms. Dorothy Spells
Tracing Our AME Roots
Tags: Church Newsletter, Metropolitan Spirit
April 2 Good Friday Service: Seven Last Words of Christ Noon
April 4 Easter Sunday Service & Holy Communion at 9:00 AM
April 20 – 24 60th Session Washington Annual Conference
Tags: April 2010, Metropolitan AME Church Calendar
Congratulations to Rev. Aisha Karimah. On March 15, she was awarded the 2010 NBC Universal (NBCU) Inclusion Award; the only one given in the DC Metropolitan area. The Award recognize NBCU employees who promote, incorporate or innovate diversity and inclusion best practices within the company. She was nominated by her colleagues as the most inclusive employee they know, one who continues to support diversity and inclusion at NBCU.
Tags: Awards, Members, Rev. Aisha Karimah
Rev. Dr. Ronald M. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Scripture Lesson: Psalm 63: 1-9. A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. 1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.9 They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth.
The Commentary on the scripture provides the background in which David, a young lad before he was king, had become a great warrior in Saul’s court. King Saul was jealous about David being a better warrior than he was. His mind was playing tricks on him – stable one minute, in a rage the next; he kept trying to kill David – he even sent an army after him. He seemed to be suffering from bipolar disorder, or maybe he was dealing with the early onset of Alzheimer’s. In any event, David fled into the desert to escape King Saul’s wrath. There, he moved from place to place. He needed food, shelter, water; he was afraid for his life; he was dehydrated and hungry. In the scripture, David is recalling what this experience in the desert was like. He equates his hunger and thirst to a hunger and thirst for GOD.
Brothers and Sisters, we are living in a big world – big accomplishments, big portfolios, big master bedrooms, big screen TVs, big appetites, March Madness, the SUPERbowl, MEGAmillions – not just the lottery: POWERBALL. We live in a robust, big-craving society. We measure our churches by the size of the building, the choir, the membership, the usher board, the pastoral staff. We don’t talk about country churches anymore. The only thing that matters is the MEGA-church, not the size of our ministry. The scripture provides insight on how the presence of God in your life can more than satisfy your hunger and thirst.
1. Only the presence of God in your life can satisfy your hunger and thirst. I submit that our quest for the “big” things is actually a craving for a BIGGER GOD. We are vulnerable creatures, always searching. Ours is a “bipolar” world – sunshine one day, blizzard, earthquake, tsunami-type waves the next . Exercising every day – then your heart stops. At a point, in the midst of all this craving for BIG things, the only thing that will matter is a God who is accessible.
In verse 5, the Psalmist says his soul will only be satisfied with the richest food – such as a prime rib so tender you don’t need a knife. Only God can satisfy your craving for such things. What would your world be like if you just hungered and thirsted for the presence of God in your life? “Blessed are you when you hunger and thirst for God,” for only He can satisfy your craving.
2. God not only satisfies your big hunger and thirst, but when you seek Him, He provides more than you can ask for. The Psalmist found himself drinking the glory of the generosity of a living God. I thought I was living big, but I’m really living now. We don’t know joy until God shows up in our lives. We don’t know joy in our lives until we can declare “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.”
If you take the first step outside your door, God walks with you the whole way. He has already gone ahead and will be where you are trying to get to. Psalm 23: “He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies…my cup overflows.” When God shows up in my life, my cup runs over. When God is present, I can reach up through this wilderness and praise Him.
When God is present in your life, it’s time to show praise, to bring forth refreshment, to CELEBRATE. Because He has always stood up for me, I’m not going to wait for the doctor’s report, for Congress to pass a healthcare bill, for the renovations to be complete; I’m going to show praises while the scaffolding is still up, while the floors are still being worked on! After all I’ve been through – after I’ve been “sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes level to the ground” – when I look back over my life and see how good God has been to me, I know it’s time to shout!
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Sermon Notes, When God is Present
Guest Minister: Rev. Geoffrey Tate, Jr., Pastor
St. Mark AME Church, Wilkinsburg, PA
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Scripture Lesson: Nehemiah 1:1-9 “Nehemiah’s Prayer”: 1The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
As sinners, we are born in debt; not financial debt, but debt due to the mistakes of others. Someone in our family lineage didn’t “do right”. Then the descendants inherited it, and they passed it down to the next generation – a generation that can choose to CORRECT it, or hand down the debts of the past to the NEXT generation.
Most people run from the prospect of trying to correct the mistakes of the past. But before we can build on our future, we must learn from our past mistakes and failures. It is a lonely path, filled with hurt and pain, and dark places we would rather forget.
Some of us are unable to move forward because of what someone said or did to us – our father walked out, our mother had her own agenda and was not focused on us as a child. But we can CHOOSE to: 1) stay defeated, or 2) rise above our situation.
There are a number of great people in our history who did not allow their realities to hinder their destiny – people like Harriet Tubman – whose determination led to her discovery of a pathway to freedom; she took 19 trips on what we know as the “underground railroad”. And Jarena Lee who, despite the injustices within the church, went on to become the first female AME preacher. Frederick Douglass, the forerunner of the abolitionist movement; dynamic speaker and writer, publisher of the North Star newspaper, advisor to President Abraham Lincoln, who helped to change voting rights for former slaves. There’s Rosa Parks, Bishop Vashti MacKenzie (first female AME Bishop), and of course Barack Obama, the first Black President of the United States.
No matter who we are, we are all living in the aftermath of our family’s inheritance. But your destiny is not determined by the negativity of your past. You can rise up from the oppression and depression of your past.
Listen to the words of Nehemiah’s prayer for his people (verses 5-9): 5 Then I said: “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
Nehemiah’s name means “comfort of the Lord”. The lesson of Nehemiah’s prayer is: acknowledge, reflect, learn, and move forward. He had to reflect on the past before he could move forward.
Nehemiah teaches: As we reflect on our past, we must carry our concerns to God in prayer. Don’t blame a person who may have been responsible for your pain. Nehemiah asked God to forgive his father, and his father’s fathers, and himself. The lesson we must learn from Nehemiah is to forgive those who hurt us in the past. Don’t walk around upset because of what your Daddy did, what your Mother didn’t do, the neighborhood you grew up in. Take a lesson from Nehemiah and “cast all your cares upon the Lord.”
In his book, Up From Slavery, Booker T Washington tells the story of the coarse shirt made of flax that slaves were forced to wear, and the agony he endured as a slave boy the first time he had to put on a new flax shirt. Aware of his little brother’s discomfort, his older brother broke-in Booker T’s flax shirt for him.
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus tried on your flax shirt for you. He loves you so much. He put on your flax shirt and he carried that flax shirt all the way to Calvary, dragging your burdens, your sins, and your distress with him.
You can remain defeated, or you can choose to rise above the disparity of your situation. No matter what life brings your way, know that you can be “more than a conqueror”.
We were all BORN IN DEBT; we have all fallen short. But Jesus paid our debts of sin and we walk in victory!
Tags: Rev. Geoffrey Tate Jr., Sermon Notes