We have some awesome articles on The Celebration in honor of Black History Month. We will be “reblogging” them over the next few days so that our new readers can find them more easily! Enjoy and Celebrate!!!
Posts tagged ‘unity’
Of course I didn’t know the man. To be honest, my knowledge of his life is not extensive. I know the things most people know; I’ve read several of his speeches and watched a few documentaries. I’ve collected a number of children’s books about him and his life’s work. No, I don’t know for sure that what I’m about to say is exactly right. But I think it is…
“No, no, no. It’s not about me, you see. It’s about all who have given. It’s about all who have suffered. It’s about all who have paid the price and, against all hope, have laid down their lives for the sake of others. Do not focus today on a man, but let your hearts be spurred on by the memories of the multitude who have laid aside differences to make our world a better place for each and every one of us.”
“Think today of the slaves and the abolitionists who sang songs of freedom together and prayed for a day to come. Surely they had a dream, just as you and I have a dream. Think today on the Quaker friends who risked their lives to find a way through the wilderness for their black brothers and sisters to go free, for when I came to the mountain top to look over into the promised land, I stood in the footsteps of those who had seen a glimpse long before my time had come. Sing today the praises of Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and Fred Shuttleworth who played their part without glory or recognition. Give honor to every man, woman, and child who has lifted his or her voice up and boldly declared, ‘We shall be one!’”
“Today, my friends, is not about one man. Today is a day for us all. For whatever affects one of us directly, affects all of us indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.* We could not have come to this place without each other. We cannot go where we must go without each other. This is a day for us all.”
“So do not let today be a celebration of one man, alone. Let today be a day of celebration that, as a people, we are not where we once were. Let today be a day of reflection as we pause to consider things that we could do differently. Let today be a day of repentance as we acknowledge those things that have kept us from having love in our hearts for all of our brethren. Let today be a day of action so our children know a world that is still better than the one in which we live. Let today be OUR day.”
As I said… I don’t know the man, but I have seen the content of his character. He lent his voice to the people, but he knew he was not speaking for himself, alone. He knew he was only a vessel. I honor him today by honoring those for whom he served. I honor him today by honoring the God to whom he served. I thank God that the work of Martin Luther King goes on today… not because it was his work, but because it IS God’s work.
*Direct quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” 31 March 1968, National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
(See also our Celebration Post called Excerpts from Paul’s Letter to American Christians, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. )
Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights movement that changed our nation. Now, we see men of all races, colors, and creeds endowed with the rights that belong to any free man. We see the realization of much of the dream of Dr. King.
Yet, I am concerned about the state of our county. While we have equality, we do not have multiculturalism. America is no longer a melting pot, but a salad, with your ideas and my ideas, which never have to blend. It is a mix of separate but “equal” facilities for each individual. Horrifyingly, the place it is worst, is in the Church.
Dr. King said 55 years ago, “the most segregated time in America is Sunday morning at 11:00 am.” As I look across our region, not much has changed. Sunday morning is a divided puzzle of cultural separatists. We are not the unified Body of Christ, but instead have become the splintered slivers of what might be called a church.
In a brief search, I saw the names of 60 churches in our county. Discouragingly, I can count on one hand the number of those churches that are truly multicultural. We splinter into our cells of division that grow to about 30-50, soon finding ourselves stagnated by our lack of differentiation. I’m not referring to just black and white segregation, but because of our racism, religion, and prejudice, we are all unable to come together to reach the community around us.
The church has become a social club where we spend time with people of similar cultures and traditions, instead of the community hub God designed it to be. In the book of Acts, the church at Antioch was in a city that was divided into 4 quadrants based on ethnicity. There were the Africans, Greeks, Syrians, and Jews. However, within that church and the church’s leadership, you can find all four groups cooperating as a cohesive unit. They became the connecting EKKLESIA (or governing body) for their city! America was founded as a place of religious freedom, a melting pot of social and spiritual diversity. Yet, in what should be a non-segregated nation the church segregates more than the one at Antioch, which is our pattern of a new testament church!
Why must equality disappear within the walls of the heart of this nation?
God never intended us to be separate. Jesus didn’t start a Black church, a White church, and a denominational church. He redeemed us all into One Body. In Ephesians 2:14-22 we read, Christ has broken down the enmity between our flesh and made of us ONE NEW MAN! In Jesus, God re-united the HUMAN race! He fully intends us to come together racially and denominationally as ONE multicultural body of believers. In no way, am I condemning your denomination or culture. I want to celebrate your culture. However, that celebration is impossible, if we continually isolate ourselves from one another.
We don’t have to despise our heritage and our culture to fulfill Christ’s goal, yet we cannot let our culture isolate us. It should be the foundational soil for growing who God designed us to be. As we grow out of the soil of our heritage and culture, let us grow into the glorious sunlight of brotherhood and cooperation. I need you all! And you need me! I need what God put on the inside of you. I need the revelation He brought with each denomination. We don’t have to agree on everything. We must lay aside our differences in style, and take on the culture of the Kingdom of God. A culture not based on the color of our skin or our denomination, but on the nature of the spirit that makes us one.
Dr. King had a God given dream. We the Church should have the same dream. It is a dream of a unified, yet culturally diverse, Body of Christ. It’s a dream of a church that is not squabbling over petty theological differences, but instead is a unified front advancing the Kingdom of God. When that dream comes true, and it will, we will hear our territory say “Free at last, Free at last, Thank GOD ALMIGHTY, We are Free at Last!”
~Apostle David Coker
Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
We have an oak tree on the fence line of our property. It measures sixteen feet around its circumference, and if you were a squirrel on one edge of the branches high above, you would have to navigate one hundred thirty-two feet to get to the furthest point across from you. It’s the largest tree in the area. I have wondered how many animals take shelter in the branches within it.
I wondered, too, if that great oak could speak, what terrific memories could it share with me? Would it recall its youth as a seedling, when Cherokee children would nearly trample it under their bare feet on their way to the spring-fed pond a stone’s throw from there? Could that tree recollect the time it held its breath because an axe-wielding settler leaned against it for rest and shade, finally choosing, instead, to chop its neighbor down for the cabin he was building up on the hill? On windy days, the stately oak may have seen countless trees struggle in vain to withstand the gusts only to crash to the ground. Would it recount the tale of a group of ranchers who hung a cattle rustler from one of its massive branches? This oak has witnessed change after change throughout its life. It seems destined to live forever.
Recently, I found a third of the great tree had broken. It appears a growth of some kind may have attacked it between a group of branches. I had considered just days prior to that the great generational legacy it would be there, nestled in our valley, nourished by the rains of spring, and fed by the sun. The truth is, the significant break may compromise the tree. Its branches are so large and reach so far from the trunk that the new imbalance caused by the break could be the end to our oldest, greatest oak.
As time marches on, we can become like the oak. We might say to ourselves as we look around, ”We are surrounded by so many who have yet to reach such heights. So many lives may have been sustained by our presence. We have sheltered countless refugees from life’s storms. A slight offense, a mere cough, or a sniffle can’t slow us down.”
But a nuisance can infect the whole body if it’s ignored. Hidden beneath the surface, the rot can eat away at our strength, and one sudden storm in our life can compromise us, causing an imbalance in the whole body. The oak should remind us to be vigilant in everything we do. We must stop comparing ourselves one with another and seek to obey His voice at all costs. He has planted us to give life and shelter to others, but we must be watchful that no offense creeps in, dividing us from the rest of the body. He reminds us to stay deeply rooted and grounded in His love throughout the span of our lives, increasing our reach and stature by faith, just as the oak tree grows.
The Great Arborist has planted us. Let’s welcome the watering and pruning and careful inspection of our branches as we soak in the warmth of His Son. Then we will all grow higher than we could have ever imagined and provide a place of safety and strength for the generations to come.
(First published 07.07.08)
When you go to the symphony, as you search for your seats, you are bombarded by the squeaks, squawks and screeches of the orchestra warming up. Each instrument has its own warm-up needs, and each player has their unique warm-up routine. It can be horrible to hear if you don’t know what you’re listening to.
When the conductor steps onto the stage, all the individual playing stops, and the First Chair stands up to give a “Concert A.” The rest of the orchestra listens, then adjusts themselves to fit the “A” that was given. Each musician is responsible for tuning his own instrument. The conductor will then have the entire orchestra play “Concert A” together and point to anyone who is still out of tune, helping him or her adjust as needed.
Perhaps the most fundamental thing to learn as a musician is how to keep your instrument in tune with the rest of the band. It doesn’t matter how well you can play – how quickly, how cleanly, how technically precise, how emotionally moving – if you can’t keep your instrument in tune, you’re of no use to an orchestra.
So it is with the Body of Christ. We are one Body and members in particular. Each member is responsible for fine-tuning themselves, or as Bishop Tony Miller calls it: Self Adjustment. If a trumpet player is starting to go sharp somewhere into the second movement of the symphony, the conductor cannot stop and correct him. He has to know how to listen to the whole orchestra and correct himself.
The key to becoming a leader in your team is that you don’t wait for your leader/overseer to evaluate and correct you; you correct yourself. How? I’m glad you asked!
a. Pay attention to the team that’s around you – Am I saying what they’re saying? Am I doing what they’re doing? Is my attitude different from theirs? Why?
b. Pay attention to yourself – Am I fulfilled in what I’m doing? Am I satisfied with the work I’m doing on my team? Do I feel used, neglected or abandoned? Why?
a. Realize that if the pain is in you, the problem is in you – In my evaluation of myself, I realized that I’ve lost some of my passion and it’s because I feel like I’m not fulfilled in what I’m doing.
a. Make a plan and follow it through – I need to talk to my leader about how I’m feeling. I’ll set up a meeting and write down the specific things I need to talk about so I don’t forget anything.
Many of us at our church have learned how to do step one. We’ve learned to use the people around us as indicators of where we are. I think where we fall short is on Step Two. We don’t usually want to admit that we are the problem and that we need to change. We think we are in tune and that everyone else should adjust to match us.
Everyone sounds great when playing alone. You never know you’re out of tune until you play with someone else. That’s why we are a Body, to help each other become better than we are alone. When each person realizes they have the “ability” to “respond” (responsibility) to self-evaluation, self-correction and self-adjustment, then not only is the individual player better, but so is the whole band.