In perilous times, it is the task of the Prophets to speak and clarify who God is, how He works ,and what He has always desired of us. The most recent brutal and barbaric act against nine innocent parishioners in The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC., can serve to alert us once again to the eternal consequences of right and wrong spiritual and moral decision-making.
The killing of innocent people is nothing new in America; nor is the killing of Black folk in Black Churches between the porch (sanctuary entrance) and the altar. You recall the slaying of the four little girls in the bombing of a Black Baptist Church some years ago in Birmingham, Alabama . The question may be asked – Why the attacks on African-American Christian Churches, synagogues, mosques and other temples of worship . President Obama in his eulogy of slain Pastor, The Reverend Clementa Pinckney, said “ Clem was a good man. I think it’s good for some one to say at your funeral that you were a good man. They were all good people, God-fearing people, so full of life, kindness, people of good faith. Notwithstanding horrific shootings in other places – 12 in a movie theater, 26 in an elementary school and an average of 30 lives cut short on the streets of America daily, the pain cuts deeper because it happened in a church.”
The Prophet Joel speaks first and sounds a clarion call for personal and national repentance to begin.
“ Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.”
“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord weep between the porch (sanctuary entrance) and the altar, and let them say, spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”
( Joel 2:12-17 ) KJV
Note: Emmanuel means “God is with us”
…to be continued
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The Reverend Dr. Rebecca R. Rivka, LPC is former School psychologist (ret.) Professor of Psychology, Norfolk State University. Local Elder, VA Annual Conference, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a faithful member of the Historic St. John’s AME Church, Norfolk, VA The Reverend John D. Burton, Senior Pastor.