August 27, 2017

After One Hundred Years, Where Do We Go from Here?

True greatness of character is measured by the manner in which we deal with God’s will for our lives. No greater human character is possible than that of the person who humbly puts “self” at the disposal of God’s purposes, yielding to God’s will without reservation. Unfortunately, our frame of mind sometimes fails to show this kind of respect for God.

For one hundred years we have put conditions on God. Confronted with what we have known to be God’s will, it often happened that we tried to bargain with God on the terms. We were willing to do what was right, but only if God would guarantee an outcome that was acceptable to us. If obedience was going to require some significant sacrifice, for example, we might have agreed to obey as long as God made it up to us in some other way.

For one hundred years we complained to much. Our obedience was sometimes characterized by resentment and grumbling. We might have done what we had to do, but we would also let it be known that we didn’t like doing it. To be honest, much of the talk that goes on inside our heads on an average day is a kind of “muttering under our breath” about the unpleasant aspects of following God. Mental complaining can become a habit.

For one hundred years we played the martyr. It’s an unfortunate fact that if the devil can’t get us any other way, he can frequently get us through pride. In the act of obeying God – perhaps doing something that goes beyond the ordinary call of duty – we often gave ourselves a secretly satisfying pat on the back. If others just knew how much we had sacrificed, they would know how truly special we are!

What God desires, however, is the attitude of Mary: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). No conditions or bargaining with God. No murmuring or grumbling. No self-pitying martyrdom. Just a humble, and therefore noble, willingness to be used at God’s discretion. Can we not see that this is the only path toward being the church God has called us to be. We need peace for our souls, our homes, our church, and our community. We can’t have peace without our God, and we can’t have God without God’s will. “In His will is our peace” (Dante Alighieri).

So where do we go from here? If we want to live and be the vibrant church God has destined us to be, we will turn from self-will to God’s will so that God can accomplish through us God’s purpose to God’s glory.

“Self-will should be completely poured out of the vessel of the soul into the ocean of the will of God, that whatever God may will, that at once the soul should will; and that whatever God may allow, that the soul should at once willingly embrace, whether it may be in itself sweet or bitter” (Louis de Blois).

First-lady Priscilla and I congratulate Sister Debra Freeman and the Centennial Church Anniversary Committee for your planning and leadership of this celebration. We are grateful to Brothers Aaron Johnson and Kenneth Walker, and the members of the Music Ministry; to Sister Virgia Glass, Sister Stephanie Taylor-Mahone and the members of the Usher and Hospitality Ministries; to Sister Tonya Williams and the Culinary Committee; to Reverend Dr. Forrest E. Harris, Sr. for sharing with us as our preacher for this celebration; to all the worship participants and to all our members and friends who contributed in any way to the success of this celebration.

We dedicate and consecrate this worship celebration to the glory and honor of God. To God be the glory for one hundred years of ministry in this community. We truly have been, and will continue to be, “A Church for the Community.”

Respectfully Submitted,

Joseph L. Johnson

Senior Pastor