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40 Days of Prayer: For the Liberation of American Descendants of Slavery

"We will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

This year marks the 400th anniversary of when the first forcibly captured Africans arrived in colonial America to be sold into a system of enslavement known as "Chattel Slavery." This system was structured as "involuntary servitude where individuals of African descent became the personal property of another and could be bought, sold, or traded." This enslavement was passed down from generation to generation. Europeans could voluntarily sell themselves into indentured servitude but this enslavement did not hold a lifelong commitment nor was it passed to following generations. 

The Angela Project has put together a guide and is inviting "blacks, whites, and people across racial, denominational, and cultural lines to participate in 40 Days of Prayer for the Liberation of American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). The descendants of chattel slavery, "black people have experienced a Black Holocaust: enslavement, black codes, sharecropping, Jim Crow, lynchings, convict leasing, redlin-ing restrictive covenants, police brutality, subprime lending, mass incarceration, all of which have resulted in the ghettoization/impoverishment of black communities across America." (Introduction to 40 Days of Prayer). We are being asked to learn about and pray for the liberation from this condition for our brother and sisters of color. 

The guide uses the writings of Willia Still, an enslaved child who escaped the bondage of slavery and spent his life helping more than 800 individuals use the Underground Rail Road in the 1800s. He documented the story of each person he helped to escape. His reason for this documentation was: 

The bondage and deliverance of the children of Israel will never be allowed to sink into oblivion while the world stands. Those scenes of suffering and martyrdom millions of Christians were called upon to pass through in the days of the Inquisition are still subjects of study and have unabated interest for all enlightened minds. The same is true of the history of this country. The struggles of the pioneer fathers are preserved, produced and re-produced, and cherished with undying interest by all Americans, and the day will not arrive while the Republic exists, when these histories will not be found in every library. (William Still The Underground Rail Road: A record)

The first reading each day is one of these stories. The second reading is "a collection of historical facts revealing the ongoing systemic oppression leveled against our black forebearers who were first enslaved and that continued against American Descendants of Slavery"(Introduction to 40 Days of Prayer). The third writing is based on Isaiah 40. It is intended to be read aloud, as a prayer, and then we are encouraged to spend time in personal prayer, reflecting on what we have read and learned for the day.

If you choose to participate in this season of prayer, you can order the book as a Kindle edition on paperback here.  Several members of our staff and congregation are participating. for more information, contact Karen Rogers or Connie McNeil. 

at Monday, July 15, 2019
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Impressions and Observations from Romania by Blane Baker

During a recent trip to Romania, six of us from 2BC had the unique opportunity to visit several magnificent churches. Many of these churches in the Transylvania region of Romania date to the 14th to 16th centuries. Amazingly enough, one of the fortified churches that we visited near the city of Sibiu was completed around the year 1180. As we toured and learned more about the history of Romania, I came away with several impressions regarding these remarkable churches and the people who constructed and cared for them.

Right away, I was very impressed with the commitment of past believers who sacrificed much to build truly beautiful places of worship. Clearly, centuries-old buildings are not essential for salvation, but they serve as testaments of faith and provide a witness for today’s Christians as to the importance of religion in the lives of our ancestors. Many of these structures took over 100 years to complete due to many factors including invasions, lack of money, and scarcity of workers. But yet, these believers persisted in their efforts and ultimately produced extraordinary edifices that still stand today. As 21st century believers, we would do well to emulate the commitment of these Christians, who were so invested in their faith that they sacrificed time, resources, and, in some cases, their lives in order to worship God. What are we willing to sacrifice for our faith? What are we willing to do to make sure that we have places of worship that reflect our faith?     

In addition to the remarkable structures, I was astounded by the beauty of the artwork found in these churches. The painted monasteries in the Bucovina region of Romania are replete with vivid paintings of Biblical images which appear on walls throughout. We were told that the commoners of the day did not know how to read or write, therefore the images served as a way to tell the Biblical stories. We were fascinated not only by the vivid colors (as seen even today) but also by exquisite details within the paintings. It seemed like the apostles were right in front of us as we gazed upon their images. Today, these paintings inspire us and motivate us to keep our faith and pass it along to future generations. We owe our ancestors a great debt for ensuring that we can worship as we feel called. May we do the same for those who follow us.      

Finally, I was struck by the fact that many of the churches that we saw actually began as Catholic churches and changed to Protestant churches during the Reformation. For me, this illustrates how our relationship with God evolves over time. With that said, I do not believe that we should follow every whim of society nor sacrifice our core principles. However, we must be willing to stay relevant within the society in which we seek to serve. Personally, I would be disappointed if we, as the Body of Christ, became irrelevant, due to our smugness or an unwillingness to connect with others. As our example, Jesus connected with people across all stratum of society. He challenged people to follow Him, but He also met their needs and ministered to them. What can we do to stay relevant? How might we reach out to our neighbors? How can we evolve to accommodate new insights and interpretations but yet remain true to our core values? These are the challenges of 21st-century living. May God help us as we navigate these new waters.  

Voronet Monastery in Bucovina region of Romania Roman Catholic Church in Sighisoara
Clock Tower of Sighisoara Overlook of the scenic city of Biertan

 

Evangelical Church of St. Mary in Sibiu

 

at Monday, July 15, 2019
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When Life Is Good...God Is Good!

Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious. Nehemiah 4:14

As today's VBS begins tropical storm Daniel is heading straight for the Louisianna cost. My brother, Ron,  lives in Clinton, LA. He was supposed to come to Kansas City this weekend but has postponed that trip so that he can do all he can to protect his property. What was bringing Ron to Kansas City was a planned memorial service for our older brother, Theron who died in March. Ron's heart is torn as you can imagine. 

As I watch the news about Daniel's approach to the coast and see the swollen Mississippi river swiftly growing higher and higher, I think of today's Bible story. It's the story of the Israelites, after forty years in the wilderness, crossing over the Jordan. I've never seen the Jordan and don't know much about it. Wikipedia tells me that it carries water from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea and in the upper valley has some rapid and steep drops. As I read the story in Joshua, I imagine the swirling waters of the Mississippi which carries most of the water of the midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. I think if I was standing on its shore today and the leader of my tribe was asking me to step into it, that God would provide a path across, I would have my doubts. Especially if I was taking everything I owned and everyone I loved across with me. The Bible says that the Jordan was at flood stage too. The Israelites didn't drown or become excellent swimmers. This is what happened, "The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground" (Joshua 3:17 NIV). When the Israelites made it the other side they did two things, they worshiped and thanked God and they built an altar so that they could remember. 

I think that it is sometimes easier to depend on God when we are in the midst of hardship or need. Not always, we often doubt God's ability to carry us through hardship. But when life is going good we sometimes become complacent in our faith. My family will gather this weekend to remember. We will remember Theron and the gift he was to us from God. All the days of his life Theron was a person who sought out all the joy he could find in each day. He worked hard, studied hard, played hard, and loved big. We will miss Ron as he fights the flood of the Mississippi and pray that he crosses it to better days and dry land. We need a memorial service--not for Theron but for us. He lived most of his life in the western Rocky Mountains. He always told us that when the time came to take him to the top of a mountain, strap him to his beloved motorcycle and send him off down the place he loved best to lay in the place he loved best. The memorial isn't for his peace, but for ours.

Today's key verse from Nehemiah urges us to remember the Lord is good. Just like the Israelites we need stone memorials to mark the times and the people who helped us see God in his goodness. That's why we have monuments and memorial services for those we love. That's why we build churches and gather within their structures every Lord's day. To remember that when life is unfair, scary, changes, is sad, or is good, God is good. We invite you to join with us in our building or in another and remember, God is good all the time.

My Siblings Left to Right: Theron, Ron, Katie, me, and Patrick

 

Posted by Janet Hill at Friday, July 12, 2019
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