Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Metropolitan AME Church
Scripture: Mark 6:30-34; 53-56. The Message Bible. Supper for Five Thousand. 30-31The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. 32-34So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them. Walking on the water: 53-56They beached the boat at Gennesaret and tied up at the landing. As soon as they got out of the boat, word got around fast. People ran this way and that, bringing their sick on stretchers to where they heard he was. Wherever he went, village or town or country crossroads, they brought their sick to the marketplace and begged him to let them touch the edge of his coat—that’s all. And whoever touched him became well.
Noted African American theologian, the late Howard Thurman wrote these words: I Give Thanks to God with My Whole Heart:
I give thanks unto God with my mind. I count one by one much that has come to me to make me glad. I remember the simple delights—The taste of food, the tasteless refreshment of cool water, The feeling of fatigue followed by restful sleep, The friendly greeting of many who pass me in the daily round and whose smiles deepen my faith in ordinary kindness. I remember, yes, I remember, And in my mind I give thanks to God. I give thanks unto God with my feelings. There are dangers which are now passed—I escaped; how I do not know. Vast is my relief that my hunch was wise to hold my tongue, When to have spoken would have hurt far beyond my powers ever to amend or heal. The mood that settled was of despair unrelieved and stark; Then a change came out of nowhere. All I know is the cloud was lifted and once again I was free. With sheer feeling I give thanks to God. I give thanks unto God with my life. The will to do more than the situation requires, The desire to be better than I am and to work at it, The urge to be thorough even in simple things, The delight in my friend’s good fortune, The sympathetic outgoing of myself in times of another’s need, The thoughtful telephone call, the urgent letter sustaining the hand of a public servant who serves the common conscience—All these and more are my thanks to God with my life.
Because this former Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University and former Dean of Howard University obviously experienced God as a compassionate God — even in the simple things of life — Thurman himself is compelled to, in turn, provide the same level of compassion towards his fellow human beings. (Repeat the underlined) This is the gateway to this sermonic thought — Because He Looked on My Life with Compassion.
Busyness… or Fruitfulness
Ours is a busy world and most of us live busy lives. We do lunch at our desk, riding in the car or a quick pick-up from a vending machine. Most of us grab the coffee and a pastry in the morning as we are walking out the door; for too many of us, fast food has become the acceptable meal for dinner; activities of every kind besiege us and our families; our electronic devices are always at our finger tips for fear that we might miss that critical or awaited message. Never is there enough time in the day for, what our grandparents called, “A moment of peace and quiet.”
Not only is this frenetic pace a poor indictment on most of our life-styles but, even worse, most of the busyness of our living is primarily centered around our own personal lives; there is little time squeezed in for others around us.
We must look beyond our own lives, and minister to the needs of others
Seldom are we able to cut through the mask of suffering, pain, and hurt on the faces of so many around us. Because we are so busy with our own lives, seldom are we able to look beyond the mascara and see the anguish, fear, and the overwhelming attack of the force of evil and deep neediness of others—an elderly person living alone; a single parent struggling, but doing the best he or she can; a human being whose body has been invaded by a dreaded disease — HIV-AID, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer, spousal abuse; child abuse…
In this text this morning, even Jesus recognized how busy we can get in life. For most of us, it is still true what the romantic English poet Wordsworth wrote, “The world is too much with us getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; little we see in nature that is ours…”
Listen to the way the Message Bible records verses 31 & 32 “The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, ‘Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.’ For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.”
1. Even JESUS recognized the importance of “down time.” Here is a thought from the scripture this morning: Even Jesus recognized the importance of “Down Time.” The Apostles had been so busy about the work of Jesus that the text says they did not even have time to eat. And Jesus bid them to take a break. The Message Bible says that they got in a boat and tried to steal away to a private and remote place.
Every now and then brothers and sisters, for your own good and health, you need to step back, take a break, take a moment and, as Wordsworth put it, “See in nature that is ours;” or as Thurman put it, “Once again feel free.” It is psychologically, spiritually and emotionally advantageous for every human being to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday busyness. It can be refreshing to the spirit and mind just to retreat and spend time alone and away.
Jesus says: It’s okay to take a break
Here is a clear occasion where Jesus shows compassion to those who are offering themselves to others. It is okay to take a break.
As we read on, it was not much of a break. The crowd of sick folk, needy folk, hurting folk, suffering folk saw Jesus and his disciples take off in the boat. They anticipated where they were heading and, when Jesus arrived at the place of rest, solitude and refuge, the crowd was already there — pleading and begging to be touched and healed.
I agree with Karen Marie Yust’s pastoral perspective that this text is — at best — ambiguous. Yust writes, “The message of verses 30-34 is ambiguous; set yourselves apart for divine and physical sustenance, and at the same time, set aside your own retreat when others are in need of spiritual sustenance.”
Out of sheer compassion, neither Jesus nor his disciples are able to refuse helping those who stand before them in need of a touch, a blessing, a kindness, a good deed. The Bible says “Jesus had compassion for them.” And the disciples, in the company of Jesus, can do no less.
Looking at the text, it is understood that, along with Jesus, the disciples immediately move into action and make themselves available to be used by God. And here is the second injunction we glean from this text:
2. We must always make ourselves available to be used by God. The second lesson from the text is that we must always make ourselves available to be used by God. To show, not pity, but compassion to suffering and hurting humanity wherever we encounter them is our calling.
If we really are in the company of Christ, we are compelled to show not pity but compassion. With all of the strife and anger in the world; with all of the bitterness and hate among us; with all of the faithlessness and emptiness so many experience, what a difference we who are in the company of Christ could make if only we showed up with a heart of unconditional love and solidarity for those who have lost so much or who enjoy so little of life.
Through our own tired, sick, weary moments, we can still make ourselves available
Even in our own wounded, sick, weary, tired and frightening moments, we who share the company of Christ are called upon to still make ourselves available to show compassion; to show a feeling of deep empathy and concern for suffering and misfortune and to move in such a way — to the best of our ability — to alleviate as much of the hurt as we can.
You may not be a doctor who can write a prescription; there may not even be a cure; you may not be a lawyer with the ability to defend a case; you may not be of means and able to offer the financial solution. “If you cannot preach like Peter; if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, and how He died to save us all.” Howard Thurman says, “The will to do more than the situation requires; the desire to be better than I am; the sympathetic outgoing of myself in times of another’s need; the thoughtful phone call, the urgent letter…” That is what is meant by being available to be used by God.
Why should we make ourselves available to others when we too are hurting?
And someone will ask, “Pastor, what is the compelling motivation? And I can but answer that I was in that crowd. I may not have been hurting as bad as some; I may not have been suffering like others; but in my own pain, in my own hurt, in my own weakness, in my own frailness, in my own humanity, in my own limited low estate, I was in the same crowd.
And because He looked on my life with compassion, because He lifted me from sinking sand, because he touched me, saved me and made me whole, I cannot help but offer to others, the best I have: the compassion of Him who was and is compassionate to me. Because He looked on MY life with compassion, I will never cease to praise Him.
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
July 22, 2012
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Scripture: Ezekiel 2: 1-5 Ezekiel’s call to be a prophet (The Message Bible). 1 It said, “Son of man, stand up. I have something to say to you.” 2 The moment I heard the voice, the Spirit entered me and put me on my feet. As he spoke to me, I listened. 3-7 He said, “Son of man, I’m sending you to the family of Israel, a rebellious nation if there ever was one. They and their ancestors have fomented rebellion right up to the present. They’re a hard case, these people to whom I’m sending you—hardened in their sin. Tell them, ‘This is the Message of God, the Master.’ They are a defiant bunch. Whether or not they listen, at least they’ll know that a prophet’s been here. But don’t be afraid of them, son of man, and don’t be afraid of anything they say. Don’t be afraid when living among them is like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in your bed. Don’t be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks. They’re a bunch of rebels. Your job is to speak to them. Whether they listen is not your concern. They’re hardened rebels.
Feelings of Being Ill Equipped
I was reading an interesting book a few days ago. In the introduction to her book, Memories of God, Theological Reflections on a Life, Roberta Bondi characterizes her early childhood as a little girl who lived her life feeling ill equipped for any good thing to offer anyone, or any good thing to come her way. She writes about herself that she was, “A timid little girl who was afraid of everything.”
To compensate for her ill equipped feelings, Bondi immersed herself in reading stories of persons who were strong and fearless. She writes, “I loved the stories of the brave Madeline (the character in the classic children’s picture book by the same name). Madeline was not afraid of mice…to the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said ‘pooh, pooh’…”
Bondi goes on to say that she was a lonely child who could never seem to fit in and that she was a child who worried about everything. In her high school years, after the divorce of her parents, she was also confronted with pain and hurt over the separation from her earthly father — whom she loved dearly — and her heavenly father whom she felt modeled who heavenly father. Roberta Bondi was real clear why she entered into adulthood feeling ill equipped to handle and make a contribution to life. Finally, in adulthood, it was her faith in her God and the crucified and resurrected Christ that equipped her to become the person and theologian she had become.
Are you wresting…struggling with feeling ill equipped?
So many of us today wrestle and struggle with feeling ill equipped to live at our potential. So much stuff gets in the way. Feelings of being ill equipped get in the way of God being able to use our life and our ministries so that we might be able to have a positive impact on the lives of others, and become the beneficiary of multiple blessings. So many of us feel that we come to the table empty.
Against this backdrop, here is the sermon thought for today, “When You Feel Ill Equipped.”
Biblical examples of being ill equipped
Throughout scripture, I have always understood that the posture of biblical characters as they found themselves in the presence of the Holy One was a posture of meekness, humility and lowliness.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, in shame, hear the voice of God and hide. When Moses approaches the burning bush, he takes off his shoes, hides his face and falls to the ground. When the three Magi find Jesus, they come before him kneeling in worship and bringing gifts. The Apostle Paul — struck by a blinding flash of light — falls to the ground; and there on the ground blinded, with his face in the dirt, he hears the voice of God.
Reading the scripture text this week, for the first time, I saw another perspective of God as He empowers ill equipped humans to live and witness for Him. Let’s go to the text for a minute.
During the time of 597 BCE, ancient Judah lived in a season of trauma. The children of God found themselves living in Babylonian exile, and everything they knew and worked for was gone. Their religious institutions, their social structure and their traditional society no longer existed. For the nation as well as for the young man Ezekiel, deportation and exile in every sense of the phrase was a “season of trauma.” The selected scripture text presents an account of Ezekiel’s “calling.” As God has done in the past — and even today – the scripture reveals that God is about to raise up a voice, a prophet, a human being to speak on God’s behalf to a rebellious people. And Ezekiel is the one that God has called to be that voice, that person, that prophet.
In his exegetical perspective, Stephen Reid writes, “The youth Ezekiel, during the period of King Josiah, was ill prepared for the social trauma of the Babylonian exile.” And I dare say that, like Bondi, Ezekiel must have in many ways felt blinded, timid, unqualified, and ill equipped to carry the word of God.
In the biblical accounts I shared with you above, the saints all found themselves on their knees when God called out to them. But when I was preparing this sermon, I saw a different perspective on what God wants when He calls you, when He wants to use your life. Unlike Moses with his shoes off and his face on the ground; unlike the Wise men on their knees; unlike Saul who hears the voice of God while he is on the ground, sometimes, based on conditions, circumstances and what’s going on in the world — when God wants to use you and you feel ill equipped, God calls you to STAND ON YOUR FEET when He speaks and calls you out.
1. When God stands you up, STAND UP! Here is a thought: when God stands you up, STAND UP! Ezekiel, in Chapter One says that he was 30 years old and living in exile when God called him to be a prophet. In Chapter Two, he tells us that God had something to say to him, and GOD told him to stand on his feet to hear what God had to say.
God can change our dull, fearful, weak expectations for our lives
God has a way of empowering our lives even when we live with dull expectations for ourselves, for our church or for our community. I am going to repeat that: God has a way of empowering our lives even when we live with dull expectations for ourselves, for our church or for our community. Even when we don’t think we can do anything, God has a way of telling us: YOU CAN STAND UP!
In his pastoral perspective, Andrew Connors declares: “Look at that Ezekiel – he hardly seems to warrant any title! Can you imagine him trying to tell the others what God has to say? He’s much too fearful, too weak, or too in shock to stand up on his own two feet. Ezekiel, like the church, is powerless to do much of anything, much less answer this call from God.”
How many times Brother and Sisters, do we as individuals feel helpless, feel powerless, feel ill equipped? But if God comes into your life, and calls you to do something, He gives you the power to stand up! Sometimes God can’t use us kneeling, bowing, with our faces on the ground. Sometimes the only way that God can use us is standing, and if God can stand Ezekiel up on his feet in one of the worst times in the life of Israel, surely that same God can take us, in our personal and corporate live, and stand us on our feet and empower us to live, witness and serve Him.
Like Bondi’s little heroine Madeline, we can go and say “pooh, pooh” to the tigers in our zoos. When you feel ill equipped, God will stand you up for God’s sake. “God don’t like no coward soldiers” – you need to stand up for Jesus!
2. When you are feeling ill equipped, go into a spiritual place and posture and God will give you everything you need. Here is another thought: When you are feeling ill equipped, going to a spiritual place and a spiritual posture go hand in hand so that you can encounter God who will give you everything you need.
But there is no point in going to a spiritual place if you don’t have a spiritual posture. You can’t just wake up on Sunday morning and say I’m going to church – no prayer, no meditation all week, getting beat up every day — and then you just get up and go to church? Somewhere along the week, you gotta open the bible, you gotta pray to God. You can’t just go through it all week and think you can pray JUST on Sunday!
It is only through a spiritual encounter with God that you will be fortified to stand and face the tigers. Anybody face any zoos last week? Any tigers? Be like little Madeline and go “pooh, pooh.” Or look at Daniel.
Chapter 1 tells us that Ezekiel was by the banks of the Kebar River in the country of Babylon. Though he had to sleep with the lions, Daniel never stopped praying. Though it meant a fiery furnace, the three Hebrew boys never stopped worshipping. Though it meant challenging the King, under the anointing spirit of God, Esther went anyway.
Get up and go to church when you are feeling ill equipped!
Jesus helps us here, when we are feeling ill equipped. Staring torment and death in the face, Jesus retreats to a place and in a posture of worship; and God gives him the fortitude he needs to face the cruel tomorrow of his earthly life. As hard as it might be to roll out of bed on a hot Sunday morning; as tempting as it might be to do something else on Sunday morning other than to get up and come to worship in inclement weather; or when you are just tired and worn — never allow anything get in the way of encountering, worshipping and praising God.
Whatever else the church is; whatever else we do, nothing must take the place of coming to encounter God. Sometimes you gotta say: “If I can just make my way to the house of God, God is going to speak to me! If I can just make it to church, God is going to give me what I need to make it through to tomorrow! Thank God, on Sunday morning, the choir is gonna sing until the Sunshine comes down!” If nothing else, somebody needs to shout – “The Lord has been good to me; He picked me up on my feet, and set me on my way!”
After fighting demons and devils all week long, knowing that the week to come will offer some major challenges to your life; whatever season of trauma you are experiencing right now—health, finances, family matters, job–if you just come with the right posture, seeking God, looking for a blessing, feeling tired and worn, God has a strange way in the Holy Place to knock you off your feet, put everything in the right perspective, and then stand you up and give you the power and strength to go out and — as the song says: “Walk through hell for a heavenly cause.”
Every now and then God has to knock us off our feet and tell us “I AM GOD; I am able.” He picks us up wipes the tears from our eyes, stands us up, sets our shoulders back and says: “I am God.
3. Never Give Up on God. Here is the final thought: when “it’s nobody but you and God” and you start feeling ill-equipped, never give up on God. However dim, dark or dismal it might get, never give up on God. Whatever beatings you have to take – and you’re going to take some beatings – never give up on God. Regardless of the scars you must bear; despite how worn, weary or tired you get, never give up on God. Whatever you might lose on the short end, God will compensate for on the long end. Never give up on God.
Here we are Metropolitan — still standing after 174 years! We’ve had some hills to climb; we’ve had some good days, and some bad days, some of us can testify that all of our good days sure enough out weigh our bad days, and there is no reason to complain So when you find yourself feeling low, feeling down, feeling ill equipped; when the doctor gives you bad news, when the “mortgage ain’t paid” — never give up on God. Take God by the hand and hold on and watch God work in your life. Doors will open, and when God closes a door, no one can open it again.
When you feel ill equipped: STAND. Stand when they tell you you can’t. Stand when the doctor tells you don’t have but a few more days. Stand when you lose your job — stand when you go out into the mean cruel world. Sometimes you don’t even have to open your mouth — just stand! Stand, and never give up on God.
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
July 15, 2012
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
The Love and Peace Unit (LAP) of the Sarah Allen Missionary Society is hosting its 4th Annual Talent Showcase to highlight the talents of young people from Metropolitan and the community on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at 2 p.m. in Metropolitan’s historic Douglass Hall. Proceeds will support Metropolitan’s continued restoration.
Sponsorship Levels: Donor – $15+, Sponsor – $10, Patron – $6, and Children – $3.
To have your name included in the souvenir program, please submit your donation by Sunday, July 29, 2012.
Participants Wanted: Young people, ages 4-39, are welcome to participate.
Rehearsal: There will be two rehearsals on Sunday, July 22 and July 29, immediately following Church School in Douglass Hall. To sign up, please contact Peggy Gatewood at 202.203.4642. To make a donation, please contact Dianne Black at 202.832.1373 or Janet Oakley Huggins at 202.726.4133, or see any member of LAP.
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
July 8, 2012
7:30 am worship service
Tags: Rev. Ronald E. Braxton
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, July 08, 2012
Scripture: Amos 7:7-15 (The Message Bible): 7 God showed me this vision: My Master was standing beside a wall. In his hand he held a plumb line. 8-9 God said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A plumb line.” Then my Master said, “Look what I’ve done. I’ve hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I’ve spared them for the last time. This is it! “Isaac’s sex-and-religion shrines will be smashed, Israel’s unholy shrines will be knocked to pieces. I’m raising my sword against the royal family of Jeroboam.” 10 Amaziah, priest at the shrine at Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos is plotting to get rid of you; and he’s doing it as an insider, working from within Israel. His talk will destroy the country. He’s got to be silenced. Do you know what Amos is saying? 11′Jeroboam will be killed. Israel is headed for exile.’ 12-13 Then Amaziah confronted Amos: “Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don’t show your face here again. This is the king’s chapel. This is a royal shrine.” 14-15 But Amos stood up to Amaziah: “I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, ‘Go preach to my people Israel.’
In order to foster a healthier culture, Mrs. Obama is encouraging the country to eat better; she is calling on our schools to include more exercise programs in the day; and she is challenging all of us to do more outside activities.
Brothers and Sisters, we live in a home-bound, in-door society. We drive or catch public transportation to work, to the mall, to the store, to the cultural or recreational events and activities, to worship, and then we drive or catch public transportation back home. It is as if walking today is taboo. For fear of violence or the probability that we might have to speak to our neighbor, we seldom sit on our porches. Seldom do our children play games outside. All the games are on the TV, the computer, the pads, the cell phones or other devices.
Present day society is most unlike years passed. Possibly because we did not have anything else better to do, when my generation was growing up, we loved to go outside and play. Among the favorite games were “hide and seek,” shooting marbles, jumping rope, jacks, hop-scotch.
To help me with the sermon today, the game that stands out is “Simon said.” For those who may not have ever heard of it or those who forgot it, it was a game around the ability of following orders. The group gathered and selected a leader who became Simon. Simon gave a direct order and you had to listen to and do what Simon said and not what the leader said. Choir and preachers help me here: “Simon said stand up….Simon said sit down…Simon said stand up…wave your hands in praise…Simon said sit down. Now, in this game, the three who waved their hands – they would be out.
Tying this exercise into the scripture lesson: Amos, Simon said take a baby step…Amos, God said take a big step…which step will it be – Simon’s or God’s?
Here is the sermon thought, “When God Challenges Us to Take a Big Step.”
God sometimes challenges people to take a Big Step
Every now and then God challenges individuals, institutions, churches, communities and nations to take a big step. The baby step will not do the job; only the big step will appropriately address the issue.
Martin Luther took a big step and the result was the Protestant Revolution. John Wesley took a big step and the result was Methodism. The Big Deal was a big step for President Roosevelt. In order to come to some resolve with the Cast System in India, a baby step would not do; the challenge to Gandhi was to take a big step.
Gandhi’s Big Step
In his book, Stride Towards Freedom, Martin King writes, “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.”
Richard Allen and Absalom Jones’ Big Steps
One hundred and ninety six years ago, in protest, walking out of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others took a big step. Risking her own life and welfare, leading hundreds to freedom from the slavery of the South was a big step for Harriet Tubman.
The Big Steps in the Civil Rights Movement
For Martin King, other leaders, Black Churches and many Jewish Synagogue it was a big step to take on the movement of civil rights in America. The movement itself challenged and changed the world. I submit that even today the civil-rights movement began here in this country was the model for what we are witnessing all across the globe. And when we look at the apartheid situation in SA it was Gandi and King that modeled the big step of nonviolent protest.
God Challenges Amos to take a Big Step
In our text, the prophet Amos is challenged by God to take a big step. In no wise is it a baby step. Get this: He is to go prophesy God’s threat of judgment against the nation. In his theological perspective, Stephen Edmondson writes, “God will lay waste Israel’s religious and political establishment, for it is warped and has fallen beyond repair.” Not just to the nation and her people, but to the king in particular, Amos is to “Declare”, said Edmondson, that “not only the warp in their lives, but the measure of their lives.” And so God shows Amos a plumb line — a straight line in the midst of the people — so that Amos and the people could see how far off their lives and living were from God’s expectation.
For this sermon, I don’t want to deal so much with the message; rather, this morning, for this sermon, I want us to take a look at the man Amos who has to carry this message. And I want to suggest that this was for Amos a big step and a major challenge. This text ought to help someone this morning that has been or is being challenged by God to take a big step.
Here is the first salient thought that I want you to hold on to and it is well-documented in biblical as well as human history.
1. Sometimes God challenges little people to take big steps. In verses 14 and 15 Amos confesses that in the scheme of the big world of his day, he really was just a little insignificant human being. When Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, verbally assaulted Amos before king Jeroboam, Amos confesses his meager and humbled background and status. Look at what he says about himself: “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me – Go…”
Sometimes, God challenges those whom the world may think the least of to do big things and take giant steps. If a little boy can use a sling shot to bring down a giant; if an abandoned child and a murderer by the name of Moses can lead a nation out from the bondage of Pharaoh and the great kingdom of Ancient Egypt; if the boy child of a poor Jewish carpenter can justifiably claim to be the savior of fallen humanity; if twelve “nobodies” can take the Gospel of Christ and turn the world upside down; if a black man from a broken home, reared by a white mother and grandmother can become the President of the United States of America, then there is no secret what God can do in and with our lives - and our church. Because sometimes God challenges little people to take big steps.
2. When God challenges you to take a big step, you are not up to win a personality contest. This is the second lesson to keep in mind from today’s scripture: Because God challenges you to take a big step, never think that you are up to win a personality contest.
Look at verses 12 & 13, “Amaziah, confronted Amos: ‘Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don’t show your face here again…”
Whatever popularity Amos might have had was gone. Whatever favor he might have had, was gone. You know as long as you are pleasing everybody, they will slap you on your back, and smile in your face. But take a step with God, and you will find out who is on your side.
Sometimes when you take a big step, you might feel that you are out there, all alone
The record does not record one friend among the prophets to rise up on Amos’side. And if you read the book to the end, clearly, Amos is “out there” alone. When God challenges us to take big steps, some will stand with you, but others will walk away from you. Sometimes the one closest to you will desert you.
Martin Luther King was not popular among all the preachers. Dorothy Height was not welcomed by all the “good ole boys.” Jesus suffered humiliation and crucifixion. When God challenges you to take some big steps, expect some bumps in the road; get ready to have your character assassinated; know that all your friends are not your friends; be alert; stay on guard; put on the full armor of God; watch as well as pray; put on the full armor of God.
Finally, Amos, the sheepherder, who in no wise had any prophetic credentials; he wasn’t licensed, he wasn’t ordained, he wasn’t among the court of priests. And Amaziah who is the pastor of Metropolitan; the significant priest in the shrine of the king’s court, ends up in a showdown.
Douglas King in his homiletically perspective writes, “The issue at stake is who does indeed call the shots.” Amaziah says Amos, get out of here; don’t ever show your face around these parts again.” God says, “Amos, go prophesy to my people.”
3. Who is calling the shots in your life: Simon, or God? The question for some of us this morning is: Who is calling the shots in your life — Simon or God; your spouse or God; those wild children in your home, or God; money or God; popularity or God; prestige or God.
Metropolitan, God says take some big steps — step out in some unfamiliar communities. Who is calling the shots in your church – Simon, or God?
Find a school in what some would call an undesirable neighborhood and rent some buses and bring the children downtown. Create learning centers to help improve the lives of others. Who is calling the shots? Simon, or God?
God is calling us to take some big steps; “…prove me with the tithe and see if I don’t open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings you can’t contain.”
Those of you who are in the congregation this morning – either here sitting in this holy place or sharing this witness in our streaming congregation on the web — God is calling somebody – a whole lot of somebodies — to take a Big Step. I don’t know what it is, but the assurance that Amos had is that if he stayed closely connected to God, he did not have to step by himself. God would uphold him and carry him through everything he had to do.
Who is calling the shots in your life? If you step with God, God will make a way for you. And if you’ve taken some Big Steps, you’ve got some more Big Steps to take. But if God is with you, you can make it!
Who is calling the shots in your life? Take some big steps; love your neighbor as you love yourself; love one another as I have loved you…forgive seventy time seventy…go and I’ll go with you…go in my name and whatsoever you ask will be granted.
God in some of our lives, God in this holy place, is calling us to take some Big Steps!
Tags: Rev. Ronald E. Braxton
Hold the Date: July 23-27, 2012 – Vacation Bible School at Metropolitan AME.
Tags: Vacation Bible School
, Youth Ministry
Rev. Dr. Marie P. Braxton
July 01, 2012
Tags: Rev. Dr. Marie Braxton
TCR NEWS BREAK: AME CHURCH PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release – Approved by the 49th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference
The African Methodist Episcopal Church today seeks to set the record straight on a statement that is misinformation at best and a lie at worst. A July 1, 2012 story posted on the “Charisma News” website and Facebook page reported that the AME Church was threatening to withdraw support from President Barack Obama because of his stance on same sex marriage and that the AME Church was partnering with an organization called The Coalition of African American Pastors.
According to Bishop Samuel L. Green, Sr., President of the AME Church Council of Bishops, “As a denomination, we do not endorse candidates for any political office. As such, we cannot “withdraw” support from President Obama because we cannot endorse any candidate for political office and did not endorse the President. No organization has been authorized to speak for the AME Church.” Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, Chairperson of the AME Church’s Commission on Social Action said, “Contrary to the report, neither the AME Church nor its leadership is involved with or partnering with the Coalition of African-American Pastors.”
We also condemn those who attached the good name of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to an effort to sow discord and misinformation. The story in Charisma News bore a sad and striking resemblance to other stories that either stretch or totally abandon the truth in an effort to divide and conquer the African-American community.
As a denomination born in the struggle for equality, we condemn any effort to discourage voters or to lead voters astray through misinformation. The AME Church Social Action Commission will instead continue to encourage all citizens, and especially those touched by our churches, to register and exercise their right to vote.
“We call upon Charisma News and those who furnished this erroneous story to their website to immediately rescind the story. Should that not be done, we will immediately seek possible remedies to correct the situation,” said Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr., President of the General Board of the AME Church.
In the Episcopal Address to the worldwide church, the Bishops of the Church said, “We call upon each of our congregants to become registered and vote on election day…and urge all of our churches to conduct voter registration drives”. Bishop John R. Bryant, Senior Bishop of the AME Church, said, “We shall continue to advocate for the well being of all humankind, so that they can freely hear the liberating Gospel of Jesus the Christ.
Tags: General Conference
, President Barack Obama