Created Equal?July 19th, 2011
I was visiting after the conclusion of another seminary class. I was sharing with one of my friends how I enjoyed the diversity of Andrews University. Our conversion turned to how much progress our country has made in civil rights. I asked what has been her experience as an African American growing up since MLK and the civil rights movement. She was a little younger than myself so I expected a pretty mild testimony, especially as my friend came from the North.
My friend shared how her father was blessed to be able to earn an education and get better employment. She shared how excited they were to move into a “nicer” neighborhood in the NY suburbs. But when they arrived, the neighborhood was not very “nice” to them. They were called the N-word regularly and treated as though their presence was polluting the community. One time on the way home from school she and her siblings even had dogs sent after them! In self-preservation the children scrambled up on cars roofs to get out of reach of the attacking canines. The police were called and upon arrival scolded the children to get off the cars, but did nothing about the neighbor who sent his dogs to attack them! I remember thinking “What?! This continues to happen in my lifetime?”
As our conversation came to a close she mentioned that it was nice talking to a white person who seemed interested in her experience and struggle as a black person. As God has blessed me with many more cross cultural friendships, I continue to struggle with what is my role in all this as a white farm boy from the North. What ought a Seventh-Day Adventist disciple do to address the ongoing racial divisions and inequalities in a nation that was founded with “…all men are created equal…”?
- Pastor Walter Rogers
The Tempting AppleJuly 13th, 2011
There I was sitting on a branch, about ten feet in the air, with a cluster of crab apples within my sight. There were about five of us kids playing in the trees and gobbling up the easy to reach clusters. As the easy clusters disappeared, so too did the kids.
“Rodlie, aren’t you coming down?” the kids asked as they shimmied down the side of the large trunk.
“No, I’m going after these crab apples on this side of the tree.”
“Well, ok…just be careful…”
My mind was made up. My heart was racing. I was going to get those apples no matter how dangerously close to the edge of the branch they were perched. So I began moving to them ever so slowly. I was hugging the branch, you could say, with my body spread across the length of it, gently pushing myself forward.
I finally reached the tipping point, though. If I moved closer the branch would dip down too much throwing me off, so I decided that this would be far enough to go. I began to reach. The beautiful red-mixed-with-hints-of-green cluster was going to be mine. With one final heave I stretched like never before and I began to tickle the edges of one of the apples with the tips of my fingers.
But then it happened.
I had put way too much force into that last effort and nature took its course as I dropped off the edge of the branch and made an indelicate faceplant on the ground. I remembered feeling my upper lip burst like a small water balloon as blood splattered all over my face. I still have the scar on my upper lip to remind me of that day, by the way.
Here’s the question–why are we willing to risk so much at times? Why are we willing to put ourselves through so much? Here’s the answer—the reward determines the risk. If the reward is big enough, many will do just about whatever is necessary.
But what about when it comes to the presence of God? If you knew that, guaranteed, you could experience the presence of God in a real way, what would you do? What would you give up? What would you be willing to sacrifice? Let’s explore this together in today’s message as we wrestle with how to experience the presence of God.
Company is ComingJuly 7th, 2011
This morning we are going to examine a story that took place long ago in the village of Bethany. It’s a story you may have heard many times; however, it is full of meaning for us in the 21st century. Something profound took place that day in Bethany. Luke tells the story in his gospel, chapter 10, verses 38-42. Now let’s join Martha as she tries to go to sleep.
It felt as if the night would never end. Why? Because her mind was whirling a thousand miles a second as she rehearsed all she planned to do the following day. Finally she must have drifted off to sleep because her alarm, the lusty cock-a-doodle doo of her neighbor’s rooster, announced it was time to get up.<
Rolling out of bed and onto her knees, she offered a prayer of thankfulness and a request for guidance for the day’s activities. Then, with energy and anticipation, she prepared to face the day. Today was special; company was coming…
(In setting the scene, I have adapted excerpts from a sermon prepared by NAD women’s ministries leaders, Jean Parchment and Carla Baker. I have also quoted from the book, “Daughters of Grace: Experiencing God Through Their Stories” authored by a favorite writer, Trudy J. Morgan-Cole.)