23rd Feb, 2003

The Seventh Sunday After The Epiphany

“We Come This Far By Faith”
Preached by Walter S. Johnson

Oh GOD, you made us in your image and redeemed us though Jesus Christ your son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your heavenly throne; though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

John stole a pig from Old Marsa. He was on his way home with him and his Old Marsa seen him. After John got home he look out and seen his Old Marsa coming down to the house. So he put this pig in a cradle they use to rock the babies in them days (some people called them cribs) and he covered him up. When his marster came in, John was sitting there rocking him.

Old Marster say, “What’s the matter with the baby, John?” “The baby got measles.”

“I want to see him.”

John said, “Well you can’t: the doctor said if you uncover him the measles will go back in on him and kill him.”

“It doesn’t matter; I want to see him, John.” He reach down to uncover him.

John said, “If that baby is turned to a pig now, don’t blame me.”

This is the last Sunday in Black History Month and this time we will present to you.

Harriet Tubman, referred to as “Moses” because she led hundreds of her people out of slavery, was born around 1820. Growing up as a slave on a Maryland plantation, she was forced to perform hard labor. When she was twelve years old an overseer struck her on the head, causing a fractured skull that resulted in frequent seizures.

When her master died, she decided to escape, and in 1849 she left her husband and children and made her way north to Canada. Recalling her escape for her biographer, Tubman said, ‘When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything.”

Starting in 1850, Tubman became a “Conductor” on the Underground Railroad, leading slaves to freedom. Large rewards were offered for her capture, but she was never caught and she never lost a passenger. In a ten-year period before the Civil War, she made nineteen trips down south, bringing back three hundred slaves, including her children, her brothers and their families, and her elderly parents, whom she settled in Canada. Her husband had married other women during her absence. On her travels through New York State, she met William H. Seward in Auburn a United States senator. In 1857 he offered Tubman a two-story brick home, where she relocated her parents.

After serving in the Civil War as a scout, spy, and nurse, she returned to Auburn, settling there with her new husband, Nelson Davis, whom she’d met during the war. In 1908 she built a home for the poor and elderly, where she worked and was later cared for until her death in 1913. She was buried with military honors in Auburn’s Fort Hill Cemetery. Harriet Tubman Was The First African American Women To Be Honored With Her Picture On A Postage Stamp.

As I take part in this Black History Month, and take in to count slavery and where we are now as Black people. What a horrendous journey we have travel, force to live in a strange land, striped of our pride, and our culture. Sold and treated like animals, separated from love ones all for the benefit of our oppressor. They took our customs, and give us there theology which was change completely so that they might benefit from it. We where told that we inferior nothing more then a sub servant of the oppressor.

It is the defining image of the horrors some God’s children are suffering at the hands of God’s other children. I ask myself whether God did not sometimes wonder why he had ever created us. “What in the name of everything that is good ever got into Me to create such a people? (We Come This Far By Faith.)

When I was five years old, my brother and I had our first racial experience. This was on a city bus, in which I was being taken to see an ear doctor, As a young boy had a lot trouble with my ears, and had to be taken to see the doctor at lest once a month. We enter the bus, and my mother proceeded to fine seats for us. All of the seats were sparsely full, so we couldn’t set together. My mother tried to arrange seating for us, some of the passenger refuse to make room for use. Mother was determining to make sure we had enough room to set comfortably; the passengers didn’t want us setting next to them. This made me feel as though I had done something wrong, this was public transportation. There where no signs posted that said White only, I had the right to set any were on the bus. I didn’t understand why any one would refuse to let me set next to them. You see we lived in a multicultural community, Jews, Italians, Polish, people from China, and people from the Caribbean. Our community consists of loving, and respecting every one, but once we left the community it was a different world. Our school, theaters, restaurants, Churches, hotels, and bathrooms in the Train station and were all separate. We were treated like second class citizens The State of Delaware was a Racist State. If we wanted to be treated like first class citizen, we would have travel to Philadelphia, Pa… What kind of effect does this type of treatment have on Black people?

Repeated encounters with all forms of racism create a combination of frustration and rage that has a cumulative effect over a lifetime. Every Black American has some emotional scare tissue from the psychological toll of racism. Encounters with racism can keep a person off balance. One never knows when the next incident will pop up, or weather the incident was unintended or was genuine act of discrimination. Often white people will accuse Blacks of being oversensitive about race and racism. What they don’t realize is that each encounter with racism is a part of a larger individual, group, and family history of racism. Racism is still very much alive today, but is very settle. You will still fine it in all level of Education, Work, sports, churches, just about in every encounter we have with other races.

Just how do we Black people handle this type of treatment? That has been a part of our history since the brining of slavery.

A deep religious orientation has been one of the greatest strength of Black extended families. Historically, Black family life was centered around the Black church. A continuing belief in the power of divine transcendence has been a source of resilience and vitality that has helped Black families survive the dark hours of slavery, segregation, and poverty. Extended families pass on the tradition of faith, transcendence, and survival through God’s grace from one generation to another. Church elders tell folks how God’s grace watched over them in times of crisis, and they urge young to keep the faith that troubles will pass. Spirituality as a copying mechanism is deeply ingrained in the Black psyche. People who grew up in the black community are usually equipped with a core system of spiritual beliefs they can use to reframe potentially devastating experience. As children, we learn that hardship is a test of faith, that God will not give you any more than you can bear, and that he will not desert you in an hour of need.

While not all Black people are officially church members, most Black people internalized religious beliefs as children and continue to respect the power of the spirituality as adults. Although spirituality finds its deepest expression in the Black church. We as Black people have come this far and still continue withstand racism by our faith in God. We surely have (Come This Far By Faith).

We heard this morning the reading of Mark Gospel, on how four men arrived carry a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then lowered the sick man on his mat, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, my son, your sins are forgiven.” If we are determined in our faith like the four men with the paralyzes man on the mate, this awful sin of racism will be forgiven, and we will be what God created us to be. A true Christian family with love and respect for every one.

What Can We Do?

Jesus can do all things, if only we would have faith. If we would just set down, and have some sore of dialog together about racism in our society. With faith on both sides we could put an end to this type of sin, that has been a part our history far to long. It will not just go away with out you and me working together as Christians to remove this awful sin.
In Color Blind: Seeing Beyond Race in a Race-Obsessed World, Ellis Cose lays out a model to guide American toward an interracial dialogue. Base on his extensive study of racial reconciliation efforts under way in South Africa and ongoing racial problems in American, Cose thinks that we should acknowledge that we live in a color-conscious society and seek to become color neutral rather than color blind. Color neutral seeks to remove disadvantages based on skin color but recognizes that skin color is a reality of life in American society.

1. We must stop expecting time to solve the problem for us.

2. We must recognize that race relations is not a zero-sum game.

3. We must realize that ending hate is the beginning, not the end, our mission.

4. We must accept the fact that equality is not a halfway proposition.

5. We must end American apartheid

6. We must replace a presumption that minorities will fail with an expectation of their success.

7. We must become serious about fighting discrimination.

8. We must stop looking for one solution to all our racial problems.

A Prayer on Self-Worth:
I am somebody.
I may be poor,
but I am somebody.
I may be uneducated,
I may be unskilled,
but I am somebody.
I may be on welfare,
I may be HIV or have AIDS,
I my be on drugs,
I may be victimized by racism,
but I am somebody.
Respect me. Protect me. Never neglect me.
I am God’s child.


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