Welcome to the P.J. (Pastor J) Sound Theology Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Freedom's Eve

Revelation 21

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

On this New ears Eve we find ourselves reflecting on a familiar yet peculiar scripture from the 21st chapter of the book of Revelation, the last book in our bible. It's a peculiar scripture for this time of year because Revelation speaks of eschatology and the end of the world as we know it, but we are celebrating life and indeed a new year.

However this scripture is extremely relevant because it speaks of ultimate liberation and freedom in the light of the righteous and chosen by God to receive the new heaven and new earth, indeed to receive all things new.

For African Americans on this FREEDOMS EVE/ New Years eve the idea of liberation and new life that the scripture speaks of should speak directly to our hearts. Especially when we remember the significance of this day for us in American history. As many will journey to various celebrations, parties, get together's and Watch Night services at houses of worship. Remind yourselves that there is a history of Watch Night services in the Methodist tradition, but even more so in the in African American tradition. Watch Night Services in African American communities can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as Freedom's Eve.

On this night all those years ago Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, nervously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed and therefore became law. Then at midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and Lincoln kept his promise, that all slaves in the Confederate States were to become legally free. People remained in churches and other places, awaiting word that Emancipation was declared. The news of freedom came later on that day to all, then came the tears, prayers and shouts as people fell to their knees praising God for deliverance and liberation.

It had seemed as if the words of Revelation were made real for African Americans everywhere, for we had received a new earth and new life, on December 31, 1862. However it was still another three years until each and every slave was freed, but this freedoms eve began it all.

Today in the midst of your celebrations take time out to reflect on what this freedoms eve means to you, your family, and friends. Also think about what new life and beginnings this New Year will bring you. How can you start over, be better, and do better?

Until Next Year- Be Well, Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A change is gonna come

The song made famous by Sam Cooke has been heard from many radio and stereo speakers, speaking about a change of times. Our newly elected President ran his entire campaign based on the idea of it being time for a CHANGE and not just more of the same. Right now we as a country are in need of a change, indeed we are begging for a change as we face an economic and employment recession that is the harshest since the 1920's depression.

Especially today December 30th we are moving towards change and transition as we move from one year 2008- to a new year 2009, as we move from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany Sunday. Change is coming.

As we look toward our scripture of focus today from Isaiah 60:1-6, we see that the prophet was also talking about change as well.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 3Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. 5Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

The prophet reminds us to arise and see the light of the future, its promise and possibilities. But we are also challenged to let others see the light in us that comes from Christ. this New Years season let someone see the light in you shining bright because of your relationship to God through Christ Jesus. This New Years season, don't be saddened or bound by the past but look forward to the possibilities of the future.

Until next time, Be Well.
Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time to stand up

Christmas eve is here, and we are ready for parties, dinners and especially the surprise of opening our gifts to see all of the gifts we received. But as the old saying goes let us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. We know this is a corny saying but it is true. Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus birth was a sign of change, a new thing was happening and something different was going on. From Jesus birth even as a child he changed the world. Through Jesus youth he taught and even led older church leaders in discussions and teachings of the law.

In our text today Paul is writing to Titus one of his son's in ministry telling him that the time for change is now. Despite his time in ministry, age, or experience. It was time for Titus to stand up. Brothers and sisters it is time for us to stand up this Christmas season, as we approach a new year. It's time for us as the church to make an immediate impact on the world after our rebirth like Jesus did from birth. In our text for reflection we see Paul's instruction to Titus on how to make this change happen.

Titus 2

2But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. 2Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

3 Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behaviour, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, 8and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to answer back, 10not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Saviour.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.

These words should speak to our hearts and encourage us this season as we go forward in ministry. We are to speak truthfully to all men, women, and youth reminding them to be honest, respectful, and loving. We must speak to both employees and employers telling them to be submissive employees, hard workers and fair employers. Most of all we go reminding all of God's grace and love through Jesus Christ, not allowing anyone one to look down upon us.

This Christmas season remember it's not about gifts or presents but about standing up for what we believe in; standing up for the truth of Christ inviting all to come into a relationship with God. This is our calling and our mission. No matter what the day brings we must declare the good news of Jesus Christ.

To all have a merry Christmas, and a pleasant New Year make this holiday season not only be about gifts but about changing lives.

Be Well, Pastor J.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Signs of the Times...

The Advent season is drawing to a close and Christmas is almost here. Many are full of excitement, anticipation and holiday cheer. While others of us are meeting this season with great fear, grief, and sadness because of monetary problems, loneliness and depression.

Either way you may be feeling these are signs of the times. Our economy, our country indeed our world, is fickle. It seems as if we are on a constant ride of ups and downs. Therefore whatever your demeanor is this season, stay level headed and take comfort in our scripture of reflection today reminding us that there is a time for everything.

Ecclesiastes 3

There Is a Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything.
There's a time for everything that is done on earth.
2 There is a time to be born.
And there's a time to die.
There is a time to plant.
And there's a time to pull up what is planted.
3 There is a time to kill.
And there's a time to heal.
There is a time to tear down.
And there's a time to build up.
4 There is a time to cry.
And there's a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad.
And there's a time to dance.
5 There is a time to scatter stones.
And there's a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug.
And there's a time not to hug.
6 There is a time to search.
And there's a time to stop searching.
There is a time to keep.
And there's a time to throw away.
7 There is a time to tear.
And there's a time to mend.
There is a time to be silent.
And there's a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love.
And there's a time to hate.
There is a time for war.
And there's a time for peace.

Indeed there is a time for everything. This scripture has proven to be extremely relevant for me over the last few weeks as I have face the death of relatives, and low points in my life. Followed by a season of increase with new positions and possibilities. Life is hard and it is full of it's ups and downs but God is always with us. We must live everyday to the fullest understanding that life bears the good and the bad, but God remains the same loving-compassionate-graceful and merciful creator.

This season of your life be mindful that we never know what tomorrow will bring, so live your Christian faith and love one another.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent A Season of Preperation

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

This scripture speaks to us this Advent season. It reminds us that there is a time of preparation before the coming of Christ and that all persons are to make themselves ready to receive Christ once he comes.

The Church, or us who believe in God through Christ are to be the modern day John's preaching to all who will come out to us and hear the good news.
For reflection today ponder these questions.
1) What are the wilderness places in your life? The text says John was in the wilderness.
2) Whom are you crying out to?
3) What message of hope do you have in your heart and what message are you giving to others?
4) Do you have a big head or are you humble like John wanting to be a slave who is unworthy for Jesus?

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent, we have much to prepare for, so lets do it reflecting on who God is calling us to be and where God is calling us to go.

Be Well
Pastor J