Posts Tagged serve

A Visit to Madison Avenue Baptist Church with Rev. Susan Sparks

Sunday January 12, my daughter, Suzanne, and I were fortunate to worship at Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. My friend, Susan Sparks is the senior minister. We were greeted warmly by the greeter outside the door on the street. The church is located within the Roger Hotel, but with a separate entrance. Rev. Sparks came through the congregation greeting and welcoming visitors. The sanctuary is beautiful. Susan says that she and the congregation will join in the celebration of Say Something Nice Sunday on June 7.

We also met a group of women ministers from Ontario, Canada. They also committed to joining in the celebration of Say Something Nice Sunday.

The service was wonderful. The choir and the soloist were outstanding. The call to worship was, “Surly the Lord Is in This Place.” The sermon by Susan was not what I expected to hear, but was exactly what I needed to hear. Her sermon was based on passages from the Book of   Ecclesiastes. Her sermon in a nutshell, “Life is tough. Get over it and serve God anyway. What other choice do we have other than to go it alone?” Of course Susan had some great stories to bring her point home which she did in a very few minutes. She has the ability to make her point without chasing rabbits. According to the book’s writer, “There is nothing new under the sun. The sun comes up and the sun goes down.” I have had a hard time dealing with my wife, Carol’s, death. Her sermon helped put things in perspective. The closing hymn was one of my favorites, “We Shall Overcome.’

The congregation is up to its ears in social justice ministries, a coat drive currently. Susan writes a weekly excellent blog, “Shiny Side Up.” It was good to have been there. If you are in New York City on a Sunday go there. You are welcome no matter what your tradition or circumstances. Susan is the author of two books: Laugh Your Way to Grace and Preaching Punchlines. She is originally from North Carolina.

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Live What Matters – Emory R. Hiott*

Emory R. HiottMichael Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and now Philando Castile.   In the past two years there have been a lot of officer involved shootings. Even more than these few mentioned.  Some of these cases were clear, others were and are not.  Either way, they are heavy on the Christian heart, but what should our response be?  As one wise 19 year old said “Love overcomes hate.” – Chris Singleton.   Young Chris seems to echo the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. a Christian Pastor known for his peaceful stance against racism.  One of my favorite quotes by him reads, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”  So that brings us again to the Christian response as these current events flood our minds and conversations.

  1. Pray – I know by taking all matters to the God who created each one of us, He will help give us the words and clarity necessary to deal with hard situations.   Sometimes God just needs us to run to Him for comfort and rest there.
  1. Speak with love – We don’t always have to “choose sides” when matters like this arise.  Whether you are an advocate for Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter, we need to see that in each of these there are two hurting sides.  There is compassion needed in our words as well as our actions for all involved and affected.
  1. Serve – Jesus calls us to a life of service, and love is an action word.  If we are truly reaching out to love others the way Christ loves us, then we are looking for ways to serve and reconcile broken parts of our world.  This can be overwhelming, but it has to happen.  We as Christians need to be known for the peace, kindness, goodness, patience, and joy that can flow through us into our communities through being the hands and feet of Christ.  Go sit and talk with someone today that you wouldn’t normally talk with and LISTEN.  Go serve in a way that may feel uncomfortable at first and WATCH.  Go give in ways that seem unnatural and FEEL.  Let the God who is sovereign use you in ways you can’t imagine and bring healing to a hurting world.

 

Heavenly Father, don’t let our words or actions be those of hate, help us to respond to all situations showing love as you would do.  Guide us to opportunities that we never thought imaginable so that we may serve and let your love be known.  Help us show others the peace and joy found in your son, Jesus.  Amen.

*Emory R. Hiott is the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina/

 

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