Where Do We Go From Here
Rev. Kenneth Love
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20
It’s a stressful and hopeless situation to contemplate that your tomorrows may never be as good as your yesterdays. It’s a disheartening moment when you open your eyes in the morning and your brand new day looks as dismal and dark as the nightmare you had last night. Life may be filled with swift transitions but isn’t it a horrific experience when life swiftly changes but yet you find yourself caught – stuck in the slow lane.
On this afternoon we find ourselves preaching to, encouraging and consoling a community caught in the thrashings of hopelessness, cross fire of economic disparity, and the systemic castration of educational opportunities. Just as the children of Israel, we find ourselves making bricks with no straw. The blood of our children saturate the streets of our communities as the news media and politicians find use of these events advancement themselves and produce financial gain. Where do we go from here? We are trying our best to cope in an educational system sprayed with an invisible and sticky layer of racism whose sole purpose is to dishearten the misfortunate and fill the coiffures of profitable “correctional facilities” with the bodies of our young men and women. Where do we go from here? The dreams of our fore-parents who labored to give us freedom, freedom from oppression, freedom from discrimination, freedom from social injustices – dreams that slowly fade as the systematic implementation of old Jim Crow laws are re-introduced to bring rise and satisfy the greed of an good old boy standard once thought to be cremated and buried in the graveyard of the past. Where do we go from here?
As we peruse the scriptures we discover that Moses and the children of Israel are caught in the middle; stuck between a rock and a hard place. They find themselves with Pharaoh’s army at their backs and the Red sea standing before them. Where is the promise? They were too scared to go back and blocked from moving forward. How many dreams have been halted at the stop sign of past mistakes and future fears? How many visions have fizzled at the sea of despair? Lives laid in distress as politicians justify and give voice to destructive rhetoric that ignite bigoted fears of the past and fuel a proposal of violence that will destroy our community’s future. The future of our young people, yes, lying on an altar of confusion, stuck by the sea of financial hardship, incremental layoffs and joblessness.
Where do we go from here?
First, we as God’s ministers, God’s people, must be able to hear the voice of God speak above and through the outburst and confusion of these perilous times. With the loud bells of recession we must hear from the Lord. With the clanging of joblessness and hopelessness we must hear from the Lord. With the roaring of violence in our communities we must hear from the Lord. Scripture states that even as the children of Israel screamed in fear (complaining in high discourse about their situation); even as the chariots and horses of Pharaoh’s army squealed and pounded at their backside; even as the roaring waves of the Red sea crashed in front of them Moses yet, heard a word. This lets us know that even during a time of crisis we must make ourselves available to receive a word from the Lord; a word that will break the shackles of hatred and empower us and God’s people to move beyond what seems to be an unbreakable barrier. As carriers of the sacred word of God we must proclaim to the children of God that we do not stand alone but the same God that lit up our dark and dreary nights, the same God that protected us through the heated and stormy days is the same God that will and is able to hold back the enemy and will part our Red seas.
Secondly, as gospel leaders, God’s chosen vessels, we must be prepared to boldly lead our communities to places we have yet to see. Too many times we find ourselves walking around the block, around the hood, around the city, around the county, treading on familiar grounds, in the footsteps where others have walked, only to find ourselves back where we started from. We end up getting lost because we fail to admit that we do not know everything. But yet if we would just acknowledge God’s leading hand; we may not know what the promise looks like and we may not know what the promise may feel like, but if God takes us there, that whatever is there, it will be all right. My brothers and my sisters, too many times we find ourselves walking in a spirit of fear; constantly worried about who is preaching on our street and/or who is sitting on our corner. And because of this we find ourselves operating ineffective ministries because we attempt to clone and/or imitate somebody else’s gift for the sake of holding on to imaginary sanctified territory. For those who don’t understand this mentality this is known as “Gang Banging” mentality; as Police Chief Dodd plainly stated fighting over the color green. Claiming territory that we have not purchased, we have no stake in, or can lay any claim to, but yet, taking the immortal souls of brothers and sisters on a journey that our proclamatory chariots were never prepared to travel; we are operating without clearance, operating without a guidance system, operating without a sanctified license. But if we, in our diverse gifts of ministry, will join together as the gospel song proclaims, “When all of God’s Children Get Together…”, God makes it plain by saying, “eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor has the mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Lastly, as candle bearers of this magnificent gospel we must be prepared to take steps where the road may seem uncross able. For the scripture proclaims that those who are called under the name Jesus the Christ “walk by faith and not by sight.” As I read the Holy Script and digest the situation of Moses and the children of Israel, I had to be frank with myself, I probably would, most likely would have given up. I probably would have turned to my brother Aaron and said it was a good run but it’s time to throw in the towel. I probably would have turned to Sister Mariam and said sing me a song because it appears the end is near. But aren’t you glad this afternoon that just when you are at your weakest that’s when God calls out “SHOW TIME”. When we’re at our last good has just begun. God says we walk by faith and not by sight. So tell me…
Where do we go from here?
In times of peril and when the enemy has set his encampment against us, when the hunger of the destroyer screams for the destruction of the blessed, I’m glad to proclaim on this day that we are not standing on the promises of any man, nor or we standing on the promises of a psychological, sociological or scientific theory, but we are standing on the rock! We are standing on the promises of God! In this time of economic distress we are standing on the promises of God! During this time of overwhelming violence and where there seems to be no solution available, we are standing on the promises. For God is telling us to make a step. Don’t worry where your foot shall fall for you are standing on a firm foundation. Make a stand for the mothers and fathers that cry in the midnight hour wondering how they will make it to another morning! Stand for the boy and girl navigating through a system of hatred and distress! Stand for the ones who have no voice and a sea of sinful noise! Stand! Stand for the weary souls whose only hope is to see the promise land. Stand!