FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2012
Contact: Anthony Hawkins
METROPOLITAN AME PRESENTS DEC. 31 DRAMATIZATION OF FIRST “FREEDOM’S EVE”
CELEBRATES 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF SIGNING OF EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION
WASHINGTON– The date was Dec. 31, l862. The enslaved African Americans had been promised freedom after hundreds of years of painful bondage and a civil war. Enslaved and free persons alike gathered to await the news that the Emancipation Proclamation would become law at midnight and their long-awaited freedom would finally be realized. It was a night never to be forgotten.
On Monday, Dec. 31. the 150th anniversary of the celebration of “Freedom’s Eve” and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation the following day, Rufus Tiefing Stevenson, noted Africanist and griot, and other members of Metropolitan AME Church will dramatize that memorable occasion at a Watch Meeting Night Service. The Rev. Ronald E. Braxton will deliver the sermon that will accompany the dramatization. The program begins at 10:30 p.m. Metropolitan is located at 1518 M St. NW. and the community is invited.
Freedom’s Eve was inspired by the Watch Night Service tradition. Although Watch Night services can be traced back to 18th Century Europe and are now observed in churches of all denominations around the world, Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor II, editor of The Christian Recorder, stated, “in the black community, the Watch Meeting Night worship began with …the AME church and with the founder, Rt. Rev. Richard Allen.”
Pastor Braxtron added that, “Metropolitan had already been in existence for 25 years and the AME Denomination had been founded 47 years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed,” pointing out that the historic Metropolitan would begin a year-long celebration of its 175th anniversary in 2013.
150th Anniversary of Freedom’s Eve
Watch Meeting Night Services in Black America
Tags: Watch Night Service
Note to membership: The Health Ministry has filled the kiosk on the 15th Street side of the narthex with current literature on many common health concerns: arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, organ donation, exercise, weight control, food and nutrition.
It is our intention to maintain the kiosk throughout the year with information relevant to the membership.
, breast cancer
, food and nutrition
, heart disease
, Organ Donation
, weight control
Rev. Dr. Louis-Charles Harvey
December 16, 2012
Scripture: Psalm 1; 1 – 6
Tags: Dr. Louis-Charles Harvey
Rev. Dr. Ronald Eugene Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Scripture: Luke 1:69-79
At times, the world scene appears to be somewhat calm, peaceful and settled. At other times, like now, it has the appearance of a powder keg about to explode at any moment. With the unrest and dangerous activities in Syria, what looks to be a pending war between Pakistan and Israel, as well as the Egyptian struggle, and the violence we see across the globe, there is a tremendous strain and stress on the people of the world. And those of us here in the land of the free and the home of the brave have our own brewing and budding share of unrest, struggles, and fighting. The other day, a preacher said to me that he thought that things would get better once the President was re-elected but that it seemed to him that, at this moment, things have become worse in this country, and on the world scene.
Zachariah and Elizabeth were “good people of God.”
Our text today is centered on the life of an elderly priest and his one unfulfilled desire coming to pass. All of his life, Zachariah was hopeful and prayerful that God would bless him with a son. He lived for a lifetime with this expectation. In his old age, the dream, the hope and the expectation waned until it became a dead issue in his life, as well as in the life of his wife Elizabeth.
In chapter 1:5-6 of the Gospel of Luke, William Barclay’s commentary gives his account of the life of these two faithful servants, Zachariah and Elizabeth: “Both of them were good people before God, for they walked blamelessly in all the commandments…They had no child because Elizabeth was barren and both were far advanced in years.” There is no reason or rationale given as to why God had not moved to bless “these good people before God.”
Here are some things we know about the culture and its family life during those times. Barclay writes, “The Jewish Rabbis said that seven people were excommunicated from God and the list began, ‘A Jew who has no wife, or a Jew who had a wife and who had no child.” I suspect that because childlessness was a ground for divorce and Zachariah made the decision to keep Elizabeth, it is understandable why one writer suggests that the elderly priest’s life (and I expect the life of his wife) both were lived in personal and domestic tragedy. Hope for them on this issue was dead, and I submit that there was a constant restlessness and tension in their lives.
Today’s advent theme is centered around “peace.” And I want to submit for your thinking this morning this thought: God has a way of helping us to live in a peaceful state. And that’s not the sermon subject. But whatever the crises on the global, national or personal front, God really does have a way of instilling a sense of steadiness, calm, and peace until His light breaks in on our condition. And here is a thought for this morning – and it’s a simple one – “Until Holy Light Breaks in on Our Condition.”
Having faith during difficult times is hard – even for “good people of God.”
I think most of us can testify that some times, it is hard keeping life in perspective. Some times it is hard making “heads and tails” of what is happening in the world around you and what is going on in your personal life. Don’t let anybody tell you that faith is easy, and that strength in difficult times is easily mustered – it is not as easy as it sounds – even for “The good people who walk before God.”
1. The more you surrender to God, and live in the power of God to do great things for you, the easier it is to live with a sense of peace.
It takes a lot to live, and it takes even more to live in a state of calmness and peace. Patiently waiting for divine intervention and holy light to break in on your condition is no easy task. Early on in the chapter, we are told that, eventually, God intervened and holy light broke in on Zachariah’s condition. God had come with an answer to a long-standing prayer. In the midst of dead hope, holy light broke in, but Zachariah did not believe and could not accept the miracle and the blessing. Because of his disbelief, the elderly priest was struck deaf and dumb. And here is a thought from the scripture: (1) The more of your life you surrender to God and come to believe that you are living in the power of God to do great things for you, the better you are able to daily live with a deep sense of peace.
Zachariah was living with dead hope. He did not believe that God could break through his condition. He did not believe that God would break through his condition. There is a peace in trusting and believing that, whatever the conditions, God is still in control of you; there is a peace in trusting and believing that God has the handle on your life. We don’t sing it anymore, and maybe it is because it’s outdated or because we doubt that, “He has the whole world in His hands.” There is a peace in knowing and believing that whatever is going on, whatever the conditions, whatever the circumstances, I am living in the power and in the hands of God.
2. With God in your life, no darkness or night is permanent.
Because light had not shone on the old priest’s condition, Zachariah thought that his present darkness was permanent. One of the profound lessons to be gleaned from this text is that (2) with God in your life, no darkness or night is permanent. Say it to your neighbor: With God in your life, no darkness, no night is permanent! The Holy power and the Holy light of God will eventually break in on your condition. Never submit to a false reality that the God of mercy will keep you in a permanent darkness and a never-ending night.
Upon the birth of Zachariah’s son, the elderly priest now proclaims that the mercies of God have broken through the darkness and the light shines on him and his people’s despair.
He’s a different preacher now the light has broken through in his life. Isn’t it strange how we can’t tell the story until God breaks through? How we can’t have a testimony until we actually received the blessing? You get sick, you find your life in trouble, you still have a testimony to tell.
Now that he has received his son, Zachariah is now the preacher of a God of deliverance; a God who has set the power of salvation in the center of their lives; a God of mercy who remembers to do what he said he would do; a God who forgives and who, with heartfelt mercy, breaks in upon them with shining light.
Brothers and sisters, no matter what we are going through, we have to live each day trusting and believing that the God we preach about, the God we sing about, the God we say we love and will serve, that our God is merciful and will, in His own style, in His own unique way and time, He will break through our darkness; He will break through our night. No darkness is permanent; no night is permanent; no despair is permanent; no valley of bitterness and hopelessness is permanent. I love the Message Bible when it says, “Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death…”
Maybe that is why some of us are partial to Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear…when the wicked advance against me…though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear…though war break out against me…one thing I ask from the Lord, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe…He will hide me in secret of his holy place and set my feet upon a rock.” Jesus is God’s own witness. When light broke in, He declared, “Father, into your hands do I place my all and everything.” Sometimes it seems dark and dreary, but I’m a witness that if you stay on your knees long enough, if you stay in the prayer closet long enough, at the mercies of God, no night and no darkness is permanent.
3. Until the Holy light of God breaks in on your life, fervently praise Him anyhow!
Here is the final thought for today (3) until the Holy light of God breaks in on our personal, local, national and global conditions, the Holy power and the Holy presence of God will direct us in the path of peace if we endlessly with reverent fervor and high praise bless our God.
In other words, until God shows up in your life with God’s answer and solution for your condition; until God’s light shines on your long-standing prayers; until the voice of God speaks and directs you, with fervor and high praise, bless God!
Don’t ever be found suffering from what I want to call, Zacharinitis (the spell-check said “no suggestions;” I made up this term). Zacharinitis, the elderly priest, served God; he went about his duties; he went about his affairs in the temple as he was called upon; he worshiped and obeyed the commandments and ordinances of God, as expected. But he suffered from Zacharinitis. Because we don’t read anywhere that any words of praise or blessing of God come out of his mouth until Holy light broke in on his condition.
Some of us are looking for a little blessing, some are looking for a big blessing. I got news: what may be little to you might be big for somebody else. And I’ve stopped trying to tell God how to bless me. I just ask Him to “bless me any way you want to. It’s alright with me, however you bless me.”
Don’t wait until your blessing comes – bless God in your darkness
Whatever your condition or circumstance might be, let praises and blessings of God ring loud in your soul and from your lips. Don’t wait until your blessing comes; don’t wait until the light shines, don’t wait until the night comes into light – bless the Lord in your darkness. Praise the Lord in your night.
When the boy child was born, Zachariah broke out in praise – “Blessed be the Lord…he came…he delivered…he fulfilled his promise…” But instead of waiting until your blessing comes, what if your posture is: Until He comes, I’ll praise him; until He delivers, I’ll lift up holy hands; until He fulfills his promise, until His light breaks in on my condition, I will bless the Lord at all times and His praises will continually be on my lips!
Somebody is on the sick bed today, somebody is dealing with a financial crisis, the whole country is worried about falling off the “fiscal cliff.” A whole lot of folk are suffering from Zacharinitis. But somebody somewhere ought to be praising Him. Somebody somewhere ought to have a testimony. Somebody somewhere ought to be able to bless the Lord and cry out:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way…whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say…though Satan shall buffet, though trials shall come….” Somebody ought to say, “It is well!” Somebody ought to say: “Whatever comes, I’m going to praise Him; whatever comes I’m going to shout His name; whatever comes, I’m going to keep my hands waving in the air; whatever comes, I’m gong to sing until He comes!”
It is well…it’s gonna be alright…
Somebody ought to shout “Thank you Jesus, glory to God, Hallelujah anyhow!”
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton
Metropolitan AME Church
Rev. Ronald E. Braxton
December 9, 2012
Luke 1: 68 – 79
All women in the church are invited to join us for Women’s Bible Study on Friday, December 14th at 7 PM. We are studying Women of the Old Testament.
Tags: Bible Study
Please join the Metropolitan family in providing Christmas gifts for children who have an incarcerated parent who participates in Prison Fellowship Ministries or are part of a family that has reached out to Metropolitan for assistance. We have received a number of requests this year so we have extended the deadline for gifts so we can get donors for all of the Angel Tree requests.
If you haven’t already done so, or can afford to purchase another gift, please stop by the Angel Tree after service tomorrow and select a gift to purchase. Return that gift no later than Sunday, December 16, 2012. Each child will receive two gifts — a toy and an item of clothing. Be a blessing and share God’s joy!
Tags: Prison Fellowship
, Prison Ministry
, Project Angel Tree
A church-wide meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. for the election of the Board of Trustees. All members are encouraged to attend.
Rev. Dr. Ronald Eugene Braxton, Senior Pastor
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Metropolitan AME Church
Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16
14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. 15 “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
Last week I tuned in to a conversation on WTOP-AM as a doctor was addressing ways to stay healthy during the holiday season. Of course he talked about food and drink and then our mental state. For many, this season of cheer and joy will become a season of depression and sadness. The suicide rate will escalate as these weeks roll on.
In fact, somewhere just before Advent and possibly with the onset of the “Black Friday & Cyber Monday” madness, many are on their way to becoming emotionally and mentally turned off with Christmas. While the anticipated joy and cheer of the season will light up most of our lives, for many, the season will become a time of sadness, gloom, depression and despair. The recent death of a loved one; sickness; pleasant or hostile memories of past times; financial stress; family crises; unfulfilled dreams; social pressure; fear and loneliness; crumbling expectations; the excessive burdens placed on our lives; any – or any combination of –the challenges above will throw many of us into a state of hopelessness, or despair.
For some, what little hope they might experience throughout the year to keep them hanging on by a thread, seemingly goes on vacation this time of the year. It is not a pleasant experience when hope takes a vacation from your life.
In the scripture, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah is called to preach during one of the worst times in the life of Judah. Jennifer Ayres in her theological perspective gives us an accurate description of the times: “The complete sacking of Jerusalem is more horrific and absolute than the people might have imagined. The destruction is so severe that God’s voice, through the prophet, also wails in lamentation. The people are taken captive, dragged from their land and deprived of their Temple. They are beaten, imprisoned, and face death as a people, and like Jeremiah, they cry out to God in anger and despair.” For Jeremiah and his people, in their crumbling world around them, it seemed as though “hope had gone on vacation.”
If the only thing we can hinge all of our hopes and dreams on this time of year is the one day – December 25th – and the hours we spend supposedly celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus, then our misery is to be expected. If all we have is one day, we are in trouble. For most of us, we cherish the wonderful stories of Christmas—the announcement to the young girl Mary; the angel Gabriel’s visit to Joseph; the heralding birth in the stable; the illustrious visit of the magi; the stirring melody of the angels as they sing to the shepherds in the field, and all of the other glitter and pageantry of that one night.
The season of Advent helps us understand that the content of that one day’s celebration is not sufficient for those of us who live everyday on and by hope. Hope has to last more than one day. And the hope of Christmas is not sufficient to carry us the whole year.
And so here we are this morning, as we contend with the reality of the everyday human struggle. Here we are in Advent dealing with what Gary Charles describes as the “Harsh soil of human struggle and the littered landscape of dashed dreams.” Here we are, this morning, trying to help someone who may be living on the edge of despair because hope has taken a vacation in their lives. And the truth of the matter is that, for all of us, ever so often, hope seems to want to take a vacation.
In our text, on behalf of God, Jeremiah stands front and center and takes the stage to speak to a people in exile. It is a tough congregation, living in harsh times with dashed hope. There is little to no joy for them, and a spirit of resentment and hostility pervades both the community and individuals.
1. Never surrender to a reality that God is absent from what you are going through!
I want to submit this morning that, as we are called to live in our own modern day exilic experiences, whatever they might be, during those moments when hope attempts to take a vacation from your life, here is one thing I want you to understand and remember: (1) Never surrender to a reality that God is absent from what you are going through.Whatever is going on; whatever you are called to deal with; however mild or dreadful your circumstances are, claim the promises and presence of God in your everyday living.
In the scripture, Jeremiah assures the people that God will fulfill the promises He made to the house of Israel and Judah. And the Advent message this morning is one of HOPE—when hope within you wants to die; when hope attempts to go on vacation, claim the presence and the promises of God. Know that you don’t have to walk the journey of life without the presence of God.
The Bible tells me that God has promised that He will not abandon me in my time of trouble; the Bible tells me, that though I walk through the valley of deep darkness and bitterness, He has promised that He will be with me, a rod and a staff; the Bible tells me that He promised that He will be my light and salvation and there is little need for me to fear; the Bible tells me that He promised that I will reap if I don’t faint and don’t get weary in well-doing; the Bible tells me that He promised that when my mother and my father forsake me, that He would be there to pick me up.
Russell Carter an athlete, educator, rancher, preacher and physician; his life had fallen on one of those exilic, dark moments. For seven years, his heart had become chronically diseased and refused to show any improvement, resisting all of the remedies of medical expertise known to humankind in the late 1800’s. Living next door to death, both physically and spiritually weak, he rediscovers his childhood faith in the presence and promise of God. God spoke to him and he wrote these words, “Standing on the promise that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I will prevail…resting in my savior as my all and all, I am standing on the promises of God!”
When hope attempts to go on vacation, never surrender to a reality that God is absent from what you are going through. Claim; stand on the promises and presence of God in your everyday living. That’s the first thought from the scripture this morning.
2. Affirm and exercise the righteousness of God in our everyday walk.
Here is the second and one of the most critical aspects of being able to hold on to our hope in depleting, demanding and despairing times. We must (2) affirm and exercise the Righteousness of God in our everyday walk.
We want and expect a lot from God. We seek for God to do a whole heap of stuff in our lives. We are always looking for blessings of one sort or another – little blessings, big blessings, in between blessings. Always looking for God to show up and do something grand in our lives. Especially at Christmas. But we are to be mindful that, on our part, God expects and demands right living.
Be clear that Judah and Israel found life as harsh as it was because they had abandoned the righteousness of God. If we choose to live just any kind of way; if we follow our own selfish and self-serving desires; if we elect to walk in the counsel of the ungodly; if we ignore the injunctions of Jesus to love our neighbor and our enemy, to do good, to pray for those who despitefully use us, to bless those who persecute us, to let our light shine, to feed those who are hungry, to visit those who are in prison, to pray for those who are sick and who live according to His commandments, then hope will surely go on a vacation in our lives.
Never sell God’s word short. “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied.” God calls us to live right, to treat others right, to live right in the presence of God. And if we live right, hope won’t have an opportunity to take a vacation, because we will live with hope in our every day lives.
3. You have to live everyday in anticipation of God’s next move in your life.
Here is the third and final thought for today. In the scripture, God speaks to the people and assures them that, “There is a day that is coming…” The message from this is: (3) You have to live everyday in anticipation of God’s next move in your life. It doesn’t matter how young, or how old you are, what degrees you have or don’t have; it doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, or even if you don’t have a job. You have to live every day anticipating God’s next move in your life.
Not to live anticipating a move of God on your future is to invite hope to go on vacation. I don’t care how much you have achieved already; there is more to achieve. I don’t care how high up the mountain you’ve gone up, there are more mountains to climb. I don’t care about your pay grade; there is another pay grade for you to ascend to.
I cannot imagine what possibly was going on in the mind and spirit of Joseph and Mary. Spiritually, I am sure that the announcement of Jesus the Savior of creation coming into the world, and their role in it had to have been a pleasant thought. But that was spiritually. In reality, it was not going to be so pleasant to face family, church and community. I submit that Mary got depressed. So she ran off to get some counseling and advice from her cousin Elizabeth. Joseph had an evil thought, but it was a righteous thought – he thought about stoning Mary to death. Joseph and Mary found themselves living each day hoping and anticipating God’s next move in their lives. We can take the family criticism, the community ostracism, the pointing fingers of church members. Because we know that God is going to move in a miraculous way; he’s going to open a door that no one thought would open.
The fact is that we live each day by faith, and hope will not, and cannot, take a vacation when we live in anticipation of God’s next move.
Most of the time we cannot explain, and no one else can explain, why this, why that, what’s going on in our lives? We hit stumbling blocks; we encounter brick walls; unexplainable sicknesses and diseases invade our bodies; and just when we think we are going to get a breakthrough, something else happens. When Hope makes its attempt to go on vacation, the only thing we can do is fall back on a hope of hope, anticipating and waiting for God to do the next thing.
You think you have all you need now; you think that something is going to breakthrough. But sometimes you’ll have to walk through another door; and it won’t be easy. Hope is like God 24/7 you cannot leave it, you can never let it go.
Do you believe God is going to move in your life; and that he didn’t bring you this far to leave you stranded; that new horizons new venues will open up; that new blessings will come your way. I stand on my hope; I live on hope; I survive because of hope. Hope cannot have a vacation in my life; it is called to be on duty just like God—24/7.
Someone here today needs a special prayer of healing, hope and encouragement; if you are here this morning and you need a special prayer of healing and of hope and of encouragement, I want you to come down to the altar. You are going through something. The Doctors can’t find out what it is; it’s a crisis; they can’t explain it. Hope is trying to go on vacation in your life. Don’t be ashamed. Cause God is your present reality. He promised never to abandon you. Come down to the altar if you have this need and pray this prayer with me: Our God, in the strong name of Jesus, we come, right now in your presence, claiming you as our strong-hold; our righteous and holy rock; our deliverer; our Conquering King. We read in your word where you instructed us that in all things, give thanks, and so we thank you today, we thank you first for Jesus, we thank you for Jesus who has promised to be with us. We thank you for the promise that you are our shepherd and that you watch over us protect us, to keep us from snares that will entrap us. God, so many this morning have gathered around the altar, and those who are with us in our streaming congregation are standing or sitting right now. Hope is attempting to go on vacation in our lives because we are dealing with factors that are out of our control. We are grateful and thankful to you God that you have all power in your hands – that you can do ALL things, and that you have never failed, and that all things work together for good because we love you and are called according to your purposes and glory. Send healing around this altar Lord; send powerful blessings out onto the streaming congregation. You said in your word that if we ask, you will do it for us. And if it is not the way we want it, let YOUR will be done and give us the faith to follow YOUR will and instill in us the hope of anticipation that you do all things well. Forgive us for our sins; help us to live righteous and holy lives in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen. God be with you.
On Sunday, December 2 at 5 PM, sopranos Michele Gutrick and Alia Waheed-Ky; baritone Vashawn Savoy McIlwain, tenors Keith Craig, Rev. Anthony Brown, Wayne Jennings and countertenor Curtis Adamson, along with the Metropolitan AME Cathedral Choir, performed the beloved oratorio by George Frideric Handel. Metropolitan member Gwen Ifill, one of the nation’s leading journalists and host of Washington Week on PBS, served as host.
Tags: Handel's Messiah 2012