Spiritual Enrichment – December 8, 2019

Spiritual Enrichment – December 8, 2019


Good morning. It is good to see each of you. Those of you who were here last week as well as those of you who are joining us
today. Last week we were we sort of just talked
about the African American church or the Black church and tried to better
understand what you may already know and today I hope to be able in conversation
with you to give you some of the framework that exists in terms of black
life black worship I think it’s the best way to get at it I think it’s always a
good way to access learning opportunities to begin with music last
week I sang a bit of a song and today I’m going to invite us to view two
videos both of them are with music one is car car and the car singers from Los
Angeles they are singing in the Los Angeles West Angeles Chapel or I should
say sanctuaries a very large black church in Los Angeles and so you’ll see
them and then the second opportunity for us will be from Oakwood University
aliens they’re going to sing and so I want us to sort of just tie try our very
best to pick up all that we can see and hear that is going on and then we’re
going to sort of talk about that couple of keep those hands lifted in the
sacrifices listen to this phrase grateful Lord I’m
grateful Oh Grateful, Lord, I am grateful. grateful… put your hands together come on
put your hands together come on you say it with us this time
say come on West Angeles. Lord I praise you
come on think about what he’s done praise you for the things you’ve done
for me… come on one more time everybody praise
you Praise you…
I give my all today come on everybody and there’s a little praise that they
sing in church and I just hear it well enough with my spirit right now
everybody say yes come on whatever you are listening to me
come on just slip those hands up just take a minute come on just open your mouth and start
to worship it come on God wants to do something in
here tonight come on open up your mouth open up your
mouth and tell him how much you love it how grateful you are come on open up
your mouth then praise the Lord come on don’t get tired don’t get tired he’s
worthy of it he deserves he deserves him help me cry hallelujah because I’m grateful hallelujah because I’m hallelujah because of race Hanson because Fraser because I’m grateful ha there might be good for us to just do a
little bit of reflection about what you’ve seen what you’ve heard and you
know I I I think it’s important to just whatever that is to name that what you
saw that you could understand what you couldn’t understand what was happening yeah and of course I have to tell you
that this is a this is a concert that is being recorded so of course that kind of
preparation becomes mandatory but I think it also exists in every Sunday
kind of worship as well okay okay joy I thought it was very physical okay
say more static that word of abandon becomes very important and significant
because in many ways worship for black folks means that we have to abandon
something some let something go the trials or tribulations whatever it is
that’s going on in the world does not matter we bring it but it doesn’t matter
now because we’re in the presence of God and worship is being being that the
worship to God is being lifted up in ways that we have to abandon all else
now you have to go back and tend to it attend to it later but in that moment or
in that time of worship it is abandoned thank you someone else yes sir so it’s not intellectual okay different
churches in me here we often see the same melody with different variations of
words because the words really matter and they’ve got to change this word okay well I think in this case this is what’s
called a praise and worship song so it’s it’s designed to invite the congregation
to be a part of that praise and worship so standing on your feet hands raised
and and worship that’s very much like today today you might be familiar with
and so it’s repetitive but it also has momentum so I sort of okay yes and one
of the instances of of the call and response is when kerp says come on lift
your hands and worship so he’s wanting the people to join he’s inviting them to
respond to the praise team that is is sort of leading the worship I could stand an hour and a half of that
not that it isn’t lovely and musical it’s just draining I don’t know I
you know sometimes after black worship I’ve been exhausted and yes so the
interesting thing about that this song that I played for you comes on the hind
speed of another song for every mountain so that sound song sort of talks about
some of the struggle right and from that song there’s a lot of emotion there’s
tears and then Kurt leaves the praise team into this so when it first opens up
you see this person and they’re sort of doing this movement up so then it moves
into this song because now we’re sort of you know yes we’ve got the struggle but
we’re grateful so there’s that movement intentional movement you just don’t
leave people you know dealing with these struggles but you leave in the
celebratory way of being grateful for whatever I’m gonna touch a touch on that just a
little bit when we soon as we go to the framework just a little bit okay so
we’re gonna play the next song and video which is vastly different in some ways
from what you just saw it’s hard to relate to that to that
question sing the song with us well I was struck by the diversity of
the faces in various stages of joy and gratitude I’m sure if I’ve been there
why’d you get in person I got cheery just sitting here
I think any church is reflects will weaken my reflection out community and
the Holly the first one the Los Angeles production is very hot but it’s very
scripted we even rather than customs of the dress of the soullessness
requesters and then that one coming out and black which was very mysterious but
it would looked at the choir behind it that was all risk the black room is
tremendous diversity net but this production began with a very classical
traditional we went formula of music the pianist was fast okay very good
opposed to the earlier one there was no common response this is much more
traditional it was operatic yes you could maybe sense one of the European
hospitals extols but both of them it was the the spirit they were these were I
could feel the words aren’t coming for me we were just on the vessel alone at
the word and it’s worth repeating sometimes did you hear me I’m gonna say
it again this is important so let’s sing it again
everybody I absolutely is probably the most tangible
piece in fact I’m trying to take the same William Matson perhaps maps in is
of the last things of youth musicologist black church musicologists and he has
often said that the black church will forgive bad preaching if the music is always contain that people come for the
music and stay for the preaching so I don’t know but I think that you know
music is certainly significant to black folks I thought there’s a degree of jazz which
is very important also to black music black worship is the music is impromptu
so you do have to watch pay attention very closely because we don’t know what
the director how the director will be led by the spirit and so you’re you’re
following that and so you have that freedom to move and and we you know this
sort of gets into some of the handout but it has a lot to do with in in
African culture prior to coming to the United States African culture believed
that that you were to weave the secular Anthes and the sacred together so they
worked separate pieces but they were woven together and so jazz is very much
a part of what we offer in worship as well
other comments and so please so balance between spontaneity and order
are those balance between spontaneity and order and celebrity celebratory and
emotionalism liven up worship as honor to God yeah well yeah it depends it
depends on the church’s as I mentioned we’re not monolithic so we’re not gonna
all be the same I think the last piece that you saw these are seventh-day
Adventist students well they’re not all 17 minutes but that a seventh-day
Adventist University right and so this choir is a trained choir the piece that
they performed was written by a black classically trained musician Robert
risin glorious is the name of Jesus and he’s deceased but their delivery so this
is the thing their delivery or execution of the piece of music so certainly
written not as Robert Frison would have saying not as Robert risin had written
it but their execution of it had his own meaning for them in that context now
back to the the you know the live and of worship piece some services in black
worship are not necessarily high like that you know celebration I think we
always try to end with celebration but it’s not always celebration not not
always and in every black church I thought that was particularly
meditative yes yes that this kind of song in a worship setting in the black
church would probably be sown right after the call to worship all right
so it’s sort of it because it’s that place where you’re now trying to be to
trying to get into the presence of God right and I found myself just listening
to it I’ve listened to it a lot but just listening to it and thinking about some
of the spaces that I’ve been in prior to preaching and hearing that song and how
it sort of sort of awakens the the sense of preaching but also the sense of
receiving the preached word as well any other comments I think that you know
we’ve pointed out some of what I want to say today and that is there are
obviously different cultures of worship different styles of worship and black
worship is certainly not superior to any other worship but what I want us to see
is the contribution the huge contribution that it may bring and I
think also that what is a part of that is if you were to ever decide to go and
worship with a black congregation no one is expecting you to do anything other
than what you would normally do right you’d be in worship and however you
worship that’s how you worship so in black worship we say you know let’s come
on and raise your hands praise God everyone doesn’t do that my dad was not
that kind of worshipper right but he was he would find himself in the presence of
God and so if you ever go there you’re not required to become black Ubu right and by the same token when
when you know as a black preacher when I’ve been improved might’ve preached in
before white congregations I’m aware of how its how word is preached right and
and but I also have to sort of preach like Benjamin preaches because otherwise
you’re like wow that was that didn’t sound like who he really is I mean you I
don’t even know me but you would identify that could not possibly be how
he preaches every Sunday right so I think that it’s important to come
you know we’re in we’re it’s an invitation to be who you are just as
that invitation is to black folks when they go into black church be who you are
come with all that you have your secular and your sacred tell you sometimes that
gets a little bit out of control these days because of the way people trust
right you know how people dress in you know in the secular well what I was
going up I think I said this last week we had church clothes right people
nowadays unnecessary by church calls particularly younger people they drive
this is what I wear this is my style and that’s what I were to church to right so
we just go with it and sometimes as a preacher who believes everyone is
welcome I just cringe inside and keep it moving so to the point about you know African
religious heritage and you know how did it get like this what what you know what
what what what has happened I think to the point of the question that was asked
earlier and there I think there are three school of thoughts certainly the
three that I’m familiar with and that is folks in Africa before they became
slaves in the US had a sense of God had a sense of the divine who God was for
them right and when they when they came to America they were not being
introduced to God I think that’s something that a lot of people think
that somehow you became us and that that white folks
said you know this is God this is who got it but that’s not what happened
all right so that’s that’s one school of thought that they came to the US they
had a sense of God and they worshiped in their own way the second school of
thought is that when they came here they lost everything that somehow it was just
wiped out of them it was you know taken away from them and so they became
whoever the colonizer was or whoever whoever was then their master they
that’s what they became but the the third school of thought and probably the
one that I ascribed to is that both of these things happened and the slaves
were able to make religious life be what they needed to be in their context
and so that’s how we have the black church today because Church religious
life has to be who we are in the world we cannot you know say all right well I
go to church and put it all off no I have to bring in all with me so so it’s
in that context that that we have sort of a holistic approach to how religion
how church operates in our life it also speaks to how worship has no specific
time and no specific place in other words a praise can break out on the
freeway now let me tell you what I mean by that this is good this is good this
is gonna be black church language when I think of the goodness of Jesus and all
he’s done for me my soul can’t help but say hallelujah thank you Jesus now I
don’t need to be in church to say that I can be driving down to
90 I can be sitting at my desk at work and just began to think about those
things and church erupts so that’s all it didn’t matter where it is right you
know I can be sitting next to mean supervisor at work I don’t have a mean
supervisor but if I work I could have my own church service going on in my head
in my mind in my spirit right and praise can be it can be work a church can be
held in that way so therefore our worship is not limited to a particular
place or a particular time so a little bit about the theology of black
Christian worship as I mentioned we bring with us all of who we are the
brokenness the hurts the struggles all of that comes to worship with us and
just as much as that worship is private whatever’s going on in my life it also
is communal now that that that’s that’s probably true with your congregation
when you say you know whatever is going on you bring it with you all right
so so you bring it there and you believe that somehow in black church the Father
the Son and the Holy Spirit and let me just say all of that can be one God all
right so we there’s really no distinction we believe that God used
interchangeably with Jesus sometimes you hear that sort of interchangeable
language we believe that Jesus sort of we identify with Jesus because of the
sacrifice and the struggle and the oppression but we also see God as this
God who sides with those of us who are oppressed all right and so we bring all
of that to the worship setting and we do that not in an effort just so
that we could be emotional just so that we can feel but also be so that we can
learn so it’s not just an emotional tantrum that we have in black worship
it’s also an educational learning opportunity all right black worship is
not necessarily as dogmatic as you might find in other places right it’s more
experiential so what’s going on in real life what what’s happening so a preacher
mounts the pulpit begins to preach about a particular text of Scripture and is
trying to identify the thread that is woven into the lives of black people all
right so whatever that thread II is trying to pick that up as as the sermon
goes forth this is that am I making myself clear as I talk about that okay
and I have a question sure and if it’s gonna D track please let’s we go where
you want let’s do your question there are limited time in your book list you
have a number of books by the late James Caan yes who when I went to seminary way
back in the middle of the last century that’s what we read we read all these
books by James cone including his book on sort of blues and spirituals and so
on but can you comment on a very big question today up on my mind what’s the
connection between the african-american church worship and theology and the
reality of 400 years of chattel slavery reconstruction Jim Crow racial
discrimination and the new Jim Crow time does not love
I don’t think I’ve heard you talk about that or have I missed it no I haven’t
talked about that but I think the answer to that question goes back to what I
just said about belief in a God and sides with the oppressed so one of James
Combs books dr. Cohn died last May I believe made
2018 one one of his books one of the first books that you read in seminary by
James cone is God of the oppressed because black black worship black people
not in a monolithic way but but but but black people believe that God identifies
that God sees us in our oppression that’s the only way to get through it
right to believe that God actually sees those of us who have been oppressed and
has sent God’s son as the incarnation of the one who is who is very much like us
so we we identify with Jesus because jesus knows our strollers all right the
same struggles that Jesus had we believe that we’ve also so in that way I want to
say that black people have been able to make it from those four hundred years to
where we are now does that answer some of your question it is it is it’s
complicated is it it’s complicated for us as well might explain why black folks
like to worship with black folks and not that there isn’t desire and a need for
integration sometimes is worship but black folks understand what it’s like to
be black in America yeah you don’t have to explain it defend it and you worship
out of that context and you deal with a community and Theological understanding
out of that con yeah I think I think that is true but I
think that most people I worship when someone said it here earlier that we
worship with those who are a part of our social location right and so that’s why
we have this church or that church but it’s because I identify most with this
group of people and and I was thinking about this this morning as I was getting
ready for this session and I just I I don’t know what the the remedy is I
think that this church here in that church there whatever constitutes church
I think that this congregation is doing great work just deciding to befriend
another congregation to be in relationship with another congregation
to get to know another correlation and allow another congregation to get to
know you so in that way we can see more of our similarities as opposed to always
thinking about the differences that we have or the distinctions that we have so
that for that I think I am grateful in applaud this congregation there’s much
that I can say more and I really said I’m sorry that we’ve run out of time but
I do want to say that the prayer and preaching pieces of our worship are
significant because the prayer is where we embody all of those things that we’re
concerned about we bring them and lay them at the feet of Jesus believe that
that somehow by doing that it frees us up and the preaching is the peace that
helps to liberate us and set us free and go to go and be empowered in our various
places of work and school and whatever in our community so what questions do
you have laughs yes sir so that that’s gonna come
in the sermon the sermon gives us to all of those things that help us to apply it
so talking very specifically about what’s going on and how I have the
scriptures sort of address one is going on and gives me an opportunity to just
for a week that’s when you come to so the emotions because you can you know and and and last week I you know we
asked the question you know so what do you know about the black church and
someone said law that is law well and so that that constitutes one of
the reasons why because it’s this freedom to sort of bring all of this
your you know and how do you do that right and keep time as well because
there’s a lot of people are bringing a lot so sometimes one of my students were
sharing with me this week that they worship someplace and they had gone in
and they you know just was like oh my gosh was like two hours that they were
the people were just allowed to sort of talk about the things that they were
worried about and pray about and the guy the preacher went around and prayed for
everybody and it was very long kind of worship my question was born of my
perception again white pastor but my perception that the effort of American
American social context is unique it’s different from Latino perspective and
it’s certainly very different from what I know as a white middle-class Methodist
raised pastor and that the distinction it is not so if we try to overlook it or
erase it or say well it’s not important we’re just all people we all believe in
the same God let’s not talk about it you have been gutted its distinctiveness
and the ongoing need for raising that distinctiveness so that people can be
ministered to absolutely absolutely you know I I hope that you understand
that there is no black church there are many black churches and that they’re
they’re very in what what it looks like not only in terms of denomination but
also in terms of age because if you go to a younger black Church the music will
be vastly different the preaching style will be vastly different the way they
pray the way they greet you all of these things will be totally totally different
so there’s just not one black church there are many kinds of or bringing the community together in
the church well I what I will say about that is you may know from civil rights
the days of civil rights in order to make civil rights happen
the the black church was its central point that’s what we did the meetings
right and right now if if something happened in the black community nine
times out of ten they’d be a major gathering at a black church right to
address it so in that way we have these connections and we mean there may be
folks in the black community who don’t even go to church but will go to church
for that particular it’s very central to that absolutely and that’s a general
statement but yes absolutely but I will say it’s general in that I think the
this generation is just quite different from the generation in the 60s or early
70s we’re now over time Benjamin’s here to raise our awareness just in general
on this topic but also to guide our path as we pursue our relationship and
friendship partnership with Bethel Baptist Church in Chicago Heights we we
do that with questions and with a willingness to listen and learn and
Benjamin you’ve raised so many things for us to think about it has really
accomplished that goal thank you for being with us thank you ever it’s been
my pleasure

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