February 6, 2022
The second month of the year is labeled African American History Month. African American History Month celebrates the legacy of the past with its impetus for our involvement in the present to give us a vision for the future. Our country and our world are experiencing challenges which require commitment and courage, faith and fortitude, and resolve and resistance. We have been here before as history reminds us. I need not recant the sacrifices, struggles, and sufferings we experienced and overcame.
The scripture for the first Sunday in February comes from the Psalm 137 which recounts the way the Israelites responded to being in Babylonian Captivity as their captors sought to mock them by asking them to sing one of the songs of Zion about their triumphant victory in the past. The message today shares their response to the crises they were experiencing.
We have experienced a confluence of circumstances creating chaotic crises of unprecedented proportions. As of January 31, 2022, 908,387 (5,687,807 world-wide ) have died from complications of Covid-19 and its protracted continuance with variants Delta and Omicron, coupled with vax resistance, the politicization of the pandemic, and still counting. Then, there is the apparent divisiveness of factions of our citizenry and political process by elected officials, the escalating potential violence from certain groups in our country wreaking havoc. The challenge of paying bills, continued stressed health care systems, overworked healthcare professionals, the threat of financial collapse, the false conspiracy theories, all of which exacerbate the uncertainty about the future. There are those who are confused, filled with doubt and distrust.
The melancholy Babylonian captives refused to pretend that everything was alright when it wasn't. They did not have a “don’t worry be happy” attitude. They had a realistic view of life and an honest response that was truthful about their conditions and state of affairs.
Biblical laments are part of worshipping God. Biblical laments never lose sight of God. It’s always a prayer to God. The character of lament is different for believers. We don’t lament as those who have no hope. In the midst of suffering, the temptation among some is to split hope and history. As a result, we either hold to a faith that is attached to what happens in history or we believe in history that ends in despair without delivering lasting victories. However, there is hope within history and we can experience hope within the historical context of our faith tradition. Our hope in God makes a difference in that the conviction that God fulfills God’s purpose through all that happens in history. Exodus, Isaiah and Jeremiah speak to this purpose and show us through the biblical narrative that in the midst of human suffering there is always hope. (Walter Brueggemann / Hope Within History John Knox Press 1987).
Aesop’s Fables each have a moral they purport. The fable about the Fox and the Lamb has as its moral, tyrants will always find a pretext for their tyranny and it is useless for the innocent to try by reasoning to get justice, when the oppressor intends to be unjust.
Voltaire, a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, famous for his wit reminds us, Whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
I share Aesop’s Fable and Voltaire as reminders that you need to be clear about the moral barometer or compass that determines your choices and decisions. We as a people have principles and practices that embrace the best of the Judeo-Christian heritage as our direction and guide, as we face the realities of tyrannical persons who promote absurdities that people embrace and believe who commit atrocities.
Our special activities this month are:
Monday, February 14 is Valentine's Day. Remember we are made in the likeness and image of God. We are to love one another as God loves us.
Sunday, February 20 is Installation of Officers Sunday. All officers elected to serve this year are requested to join the Pastor’s Chat at 1:00 pm via Zoom meeting to take part in the installation opportunity.
Sunday, February 27, 2022 Sunday School African American History Program. The program will be held at 10:00 am via Zoom meeting.
It is my privilege to be paired with you on this journey of faith as we continue "to serve this present age our calling to fulfill."
Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor