A Pastoral Response to the Muslim Ban

As a pastor and a member of the Christian community, I am greatly distressed by the recent declarations and actions of the current president. Here at Turner Memorial AME Church, we continually aspire to create a space that extends reconciliation, liberation and transformation for all persons no matter their background, which is consistent with our Christian faith. I strongly believe that the deplorable executive orders issued by the president over the past week, in particular the ban on Muslims from traveling into the United States, do not exemplify Christian principles and values. As members of the Christian community, we cannot sit idly by and allow the president to defraud the moralities of our faith or use them to wear down the principles of a democratic society.

 

The United States is a diverse, multicultural nation that was and still is being built by the

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hands of immigrants. The reality is unless we are of Native American descent; we are all immigrants in this country. Some, like our ancestors were driven from their homeland and forced into slavery, while others came of their own free will; many seeking religious freedom. At various times throughout history, this nation’s leaders systematically denied our constitutional rights and used the Bible to justify their actions. Even now, there are attempts to infringe upon our rights and those of others, and Christianity is once again being used as an instrument of manipulation. Sadly, we have witnessed some prominent pastors endorse and stand with one has admitted to being a molester of women, and has integrated much of his administration policies with racism, white nationalism, fascism, and demagoguery. As believers, we should not stand by and let this happen.
When one looks at the birth of Jesus we are clearly reminded that Jesus himself was a refugee. Jesus, a Jew born in Bethlehem under the colonial oppression of Rome, along with his family eventually had to flee to Egypt because of King Herod’s “executive order” to have all male children killed. One of the greatest sermons that Jesus ever preached, the Good Samaritan, should inform our views on immigration. In this short story Jesus challenges us to minister beyond the boundaries of our own self-existence. The “neighbor” in Luke’s parable serves as a metaphorical bridge between identity and difference. A hermeneutics of hospitality commands community where care is offered to this “certain man” who is not characterized by race, religion, or region.
So I want to lift the same question found in the Luke’s gospel; “Who is our neighbor?” The current governmental leadership will say to us that the undocumented immigrant, the Muslim refugee, and the Latino/a immigrant are not our neighbors. Nevertheless, the love of God has no bounds. Jesus explains “neighbor” as any person irrespective of race or religion with whom we may come in contact. Jesus turned the issue from the boundary requirement of neighbor to the essential duty of being a neighbor. This parable shatters the stereotypes of social boundaries and class division and destroys any system that hinders one from being hospitable to any sojourner realizing that we too, were once immigrants. Yes, we must extend the ministry of hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Syrians, Sudanese, Libyans, Iranians, Iraqis, Somalians, Yemenis, Mexicans, African Americans, European Americans, non-Americans, democrats, and republicans… “For God so loved the ENTIRE WORLD…”

So what should be the church’s response to immigration and/or reaching out to those multicultural communities? It is impossible to respond lovingly and prophetically to those communities where persons have come seeking refuge and justice without seeing the value and the worth that is within them. They too, were created by the hands of God and the death of Jesus was an act of love not just for America, but for the entire world. The love of God looks beyond race, stereotypes, and prejudices. In no other arena is the possibility for inclusive community more pregnant than among the churches that make up the body of Christ. The church, to be true to Christ and to our faith, must be a visible sign of the “beloved community.” We must recognize that our immigrant brothers and sisters are in search of meaning, care, and love in the same ways that we are.

In closing, as we wrestle with issues of immigration and the actions taken by the president, I invite us to consider this passage of scripture found in Matthew 25:35-40: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

D.K. Kearney

©2017

 

 

 

 

Stranded in the Past

The biggest hindrance within the body of Christ that keeps us stagnant, trapped and motionless is the memory of what God has DONE in your life compared to what God wants to DO in your life. Beloved, I may as well warn you now, each time God brings you into a new season, your old season will not like it. Nothing is wrong with the old one, its time is up. There are so many battles within and without over the old vs. the new. We battle about the style of worship, the style of music, the style of dress, etc. The Prophet Isaiah said in the 43rd chapter, verses18-19:
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”

There are a lot of things we say each year we are going to stop doing, and there are things that we say we are going to start doing. Stop smoking, stop cussing, stop eating too much, etc. Then we say to ourselves, I am going to start praying more, reading the Bible, eating right, etc. May I recommend that we stop recycling our past? We have made mistakes in the past, as individuals. Yet there is a blessed assurance because each day we wake up, it is another day to get it right. It is a new day, a new beginning. You may want and wish for the “good old days”. You may revert to living in the past, thusly, recreating it —don’t keep dwelling on the past. Forget the past, because God has moved on and has greater things for us. We may be overwhelmed because of what has happened and unsure of what the future holds because of what has happened in the past. God says to turn your back on it. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t let it annihilate your future. Don’t let it run and ruin your life; because God is doing something greater. God is going to do something great, something new, something you’ve never expected. God cannot give you NEW manna, if you are still trying to hold on to old manna.

In spite of all that has happened in your past, Beloved, you are special to God. There are so many who have been paddling against the negative waves in life. We begin to become comfortable in the opposition and start to believe that this is all there is to life, the names we are called, the way we are either being ignored or denigrated because of our convictions and beliefs and even the decisions that we make. Beloved, you can get to a point where you feel there is no hope. We don’t expect tomorrow to be any better or worse, any different than today. Have you been there? We have all made bad decisions about what we said, where we went, what we did. Show me a person besides Jesus Christ who has never made a mistake or a wrong decision and I will show you a person who has never grown and lacks maturity. Beloved, our imperfections are seeds of growth. Mistakes, errors, bad decisions are all the byproducts of growth and learning. I would venture to say that God already knew the mistakes you were going to make, that is why the bank of Grace and Mercy will never go bankrupt. What is essential is not the mistake and/or bad decision, the key is if you learned and if you have grown. Beloved, don’t allow your past to dictate your present-future. We all mess up. We all have said or done things we later wish we could take back. The breaking news that needs to be shared with each other is that WE SERVE A GOD OF NEW BEGINNINGS!

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Look at what Paul said,
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
(Philippians 3: 12-16, The Message)

The temptation to give up, to simply quit before you attain the goal, or to turn back is real. It raises its negative head at every disappointment, every kiss of betrayal, and every sad circumstance. Beloved, never become so absorbed in what the past or present situation that we forget that there is a new day, which brings a new beginning. Your latter will be greater than your former. I just want to encourage you to never get stranded in your past; don’t allow people to keep you there. The God you serve has better for you! Speak it, Believe it, Expect it and Receive it.

bINpowered™
D.K. Kearney
©2013

IF HE DOESN’T FIT, YOU MUST QUIT

Wow! What a positive response from my latest blog “Does He or She FIT?” Because of the great amount of responses that I received via email etc., I’ve given a great deal of thought about what this week’s message should be about. It seems that people everywhere are searching for the right “FIT”. What do I mean when I say the right “FIT”? Having the right “FIT” means being connected with the man that God put under spiritual anesthesia and removed one of his ribs to create you. When God brings the two of you together something within your soul ought to “leap”. Yes, it’s possible! Having that spiritual connection is the most important thing. Why? Because the physical will fade away!

Well, I want to take it a step further and take a look at what Paul said in the book of Ephesians. As he states in the fifth chapter and twenty-second verse, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” One of the most controversial terms to women everywhere is the word, SUBMIT! I’m willing to bet that some of you who may be reading this right now are making a face. My prayer is that after reading this blog, whenever you hear or read that passage of scripture again, it will no longer vex your spirit and you will begin to see that submitting is not a bad thing if you are submitting to the one who “FITS.”

Let me first begin by giving you the definition of the word submit in its original Greek text. The word, submit, means to “identify with, to support, to get under, to lift up.” It does NOT mean to elevate one person over another. We shared in the last post “Does He or She FIT” that it was not God’s intention in the beginning, because He chose to make woman from a bone that He removed from man’s side. The husband and wife are supposed to be a partnership; they are supposed to work together. God gave Adam a partner not a slave or servant but someone who would share the responsibility. Here is the reason why I know that God did not intend for man to rule over woman. If you take a close look at the judgments that were pronounced after Adam and Eve sinned, God said to the woman, “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you”(Genesis 3:16). Beloved, that was a punishment for the sin; it was not and is not God’s original intention. The good news is that because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, it nullifies what the first Adam did, and thusly, we are no longer bound by those judgments.

Sisters, I want you to recall from my previous post that you were created from the bone. One of the primary functions of the bones is to support, to uphold. Ephesians 5 makes it very clear that men have a need for respect and women have a need for love! According to the amplified Bible it says “Let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband, that she notices him, honors him, prefers him, and esteems him exceedingly” If she respects him as she should, she shows her love for him. Woman of God, it is okay to tell your man/husband, “I believe in you!” Remember you came from his rib; you are to provide for him inner security and protection. The words that you speak to him are powerful and they affect him greatly. Your words will either bring to him life or death. Calling him names, belittling him, and criticizing him, etc. are not ways to show that you are supportive of your partner/husband. You cannot expect him to love you as Christ loved the church if you don’t support him! I would contend that one of the biggest issues with relationships is not the surface stuff that you argue about, but when two people in a relationship start fulfilling roles that God did not create them to fill. God divinely placed attributes in a husband that He did not place in a wife, and vice versa. You can’t be “the man” while having a man at the same time. If you are in a relationship now and find that things are “out of order” you still have time to get them in order. Sisters, you must stop praying that God will help you to be a good partner/wife and begin to pray that God will make you the partner/wife He needs you to be for your partner/husband. There is a difference! In the first prayer you are just praying to be a good wife, in the second prayer you are asking to be “God’s wife” for your husband.

Lastly, one of the biggest clues we miss when we read this passage in Ephesians, is the fact that Paul was not speaking to the general public. Paul was speaking to those who were a part of the body of Christ. Here is my point: Why are you submitting to someone who knows nothing about the love that Christ has for the church? Understand that your submission is directly connected to his love for you like Christ’s love for the church. He can’t love you like Christ loved the church if he doesn’t personally know about the love of Christ. Thusly, you can’t submit to him. Can I just keep it real for a few more seconds? You’ve read or heard, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Here is the question: DID GOD JOIN THE TWO OF YOU TOGETHER? You can’t expect God to bless something that He was not a part of, or was not invited to be a part of, in the first place!

Join me next week, as I will continue this discussion on God’s plan for the perfect FIT. I am going to reflect on “IF SHE DOESN’T FIT, YOU MUST QUIT”.

bINpowered,
D.K.Kearney
Follow me on twitter @ PastorDKKearney
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