Posts Tagged Baptists

The Shiny Side Up – Rev. Susan Sparks

Hi y’all, welcome to the Shiny Side Up! This is the fifth week in our nine-part series on change:

The real you
Us versus the world
Shake it up
Too late? Never

Letting go
Earned respect.
A break. Take it

It’s a classic excuse: “it’s too late.”  It comes clothed in many versions: I’m too old, the opportunity has past, I’m just not up to it, I don’t want to learn something new, people would think I’m crazy, I’m scared.

We’ve all done it.

But here’s the truth of the matter: to refuse an opportunity saying “it’s too late” is a choice. You can chase your dreams at any age, at any time.  For example, F.X. Toole made his literary debut at 70 years old, his first novel being the basis for the movie Million Dollar Baby.

Many of us tend to think that we can’t change, saying things like “chasing this dream doesn’t make sense at my age,” or “I’ve already started down one road, I don’t want to have to start over again.”

No one said the path to your dream would be a straight line. Look at my road: trial lawyer to standup comedian and Baptist minister. In fact, one of the things I’ve learned as a performer and comedian is that the ending of your act is the most important part. Even if you bombed in the beginning of the set, if you give them your best material at the end, that’s what they will remember.

In life it’s the same thing. Even if you messed up in the beginning, or made choices you regret, or let opportunities pass you by, it’s not too late. If you give the world your best stuff at the end, that’s what they’ll remember.

Below you will find videos, my blog and a press piece that offer additional inspiration. Until next week when we talk about Letting go, keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down! –Susan

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The Right Time and Place

One of the surprises that came with writing my book, Our Father: Discovering Family,* was getting to revisit at least in memory with some of the saints that inhabit my world. Some of them I wrote about others are still unsung. Most of these remembrances brought a smile to my face and a deep sense of joy and gratitude.

I also realize that my small home town of Woodruff, South Carolina was the ideal place to encounter people whose values would guide my life. Yes, it was the segregated South and yes these people were prisoners of their place and time. Never-the-less, I did not see or experience the meanness that is so evident today. I did not hear the harsh rhetoric toward public officials that is so pervasive today.

I got a head start on race relations. While we lived in the Abney Mill Village and in a company house. The company sent crews to do regular maintenance. One day the two person crew at our house consisted of two Black men. They were repairing a bedroom window and I was watching them from the inside. I had not yet learned how to tell time. When one of them asked me the time, I simply threw the alarm clock out the window to him. They loved it. From then on when we met on the street they greeted me loudly and recited the story to their companions. This incident set the tone for my life. Everyone enjoys a good laugh. Laughter is a healing force.

Pink Robinson was the custodian at Woodruff High School. He had a laugh that was unmistakable. And contagious. When the windows were open, you could hear his laughter as he returned from an errand on Main Street roughly two blocks away. Smiles spread across the classroom no matter which class you were in when his laughter rang out. It is not a stretch to say that everyone loved Pink.

Rev. Susan Sparks, a Baptist pastor in New York City, a lawyer and a standup comedian, has written a wonderful book, Laugh Your Way to Grace. She contends that Christians have forgotten how to laugh in church. She maintains that laughter is a gift that needs to be nourished. She’s right. Some of my best memories are of Northside Baptist Church and the saints and sinners that I met there.

*Our Father: Discovering Family. Wipf and Stock. 2016.

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Unity in the Body of Christ : Resolution Passed by SC Baptist Convention

This resolution was passed in support of objectives of  Say Something Nice Sunday.

WHEREAS, Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”; and

WHEREAS, We are reminded in Holy Scripture not to bear a grudge and to love one another (Leviticus 19:18); and

WHEREAS, Civility in public discourse (spoken and printed) appears to be declining among those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior; and

WHEREAS, In recognition of the negative effects that such behavior has on our witness; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That we, the messengers of the South Carolina Baptist Convention meeting in Florence, South Carolina on November 13—14, 2007, do proclaim our intent to foster a climate of Christian communication that brings honor to our Lord through encouragement and love; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we encourage and support activities or programs that will help establish a positive dialogue, between Christians and with non-Christians, that honors Christ.

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Inspired by an Idea. Help Us Make a Difference

Lifter CvrAlmost ten years ago, I was inspired with the idea that we could turn down the hostile rhetoric among Christian denominations and other Christian groups if we could work together and that we could encourage more Christ-like speech. It is astounding what can happen if God inspires the vision. The 10th. Anniversary of this movement is June 05, 2016.

My idea found fertile soil with the Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of Charleston’s historic First Baptist Church.  He enthusiastically embraced the possibilities. The congregation was quick to pass a resolution designating the first Sunday in June each year as Say Something Nice Sunday. The Charleston County Baptist Baptists Association unanimously endorsed the idea.

We found a great and supportive ally in the Charleston/Atlantic Presbytery. The South Carolina Baptists Convention adopted a resolution supportive of the idea, “Unity in the Body.” The South Carolina Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joined the movement. We formed an ecumenical committee which brought in many churches including: Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodists.

Cardinal Dolan of New York endorsed the movement, as did Bishop Guglielmone of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston representing all of South Carolina. We received coverage in the Baptists Times of the UK. In 2014, Bishop Stacy Sauls, COO of the National Episcopal Church wrote an outstanding endorsement of the movement in his weekly blog. The Baptist World Alliance agreed to help promote the event.

National syndicated columnist, Norris Burkes (The Chaplain) dedicated one of his columns to the topic.

In 2009 eight leaders from different denomination contributed to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. All endorsed the movement. Dr. Richard Mouw’s book, Uncommon Decency, was a great inspiration and he contributed a chapter to the new work. Since then I have conducted several Brown Bag Lunch discussion at Baptist House at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State thanks to the generous support of Bud and Pat Brown, managers.

Many pastors have taken the opportunity to deliver sermons on the topic of Christ-like Speech and Its Influence. The Rev. Andrew Shull, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodruff, SC, dedicated a week to the topic.

We are looking for enthusiastic supporters who will promote the movement in their own churches and religious organizations. There is nothing to buy. Free materials are available at Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page. Scroll down to Say Something Nice Sunday. You will find art work, devotional, Bible Verses, and “Why Have a Say Something Nice Sunday?” You are also encouraged to contribute ideas.

You will find it exciting to be a part of a movement that is making a difference where all that is required is a kind word, a friendly welcome or Christian hospitality. Jesus said, “In-so-much as you do it unto the least of these, you do it also unto me.”


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