Another Year is Dawning

Another year is dawning, Dear Father let it be, in working or in waiting, another year with Thee: Another year of progress another year of praise another year of proving Thy presence all the days. Another year of service, of witness for thy love; another year of training, for holier work above. Another year is dawning, dear Father let it be, on earth, or else in heaven, another year with Thee. Frances R. Havergal

As 2014 comes to an end, there will be scores of parties, reflections, and of course resolutions. Many will focus on becoming their ideal self in 2015. For this writer, 2015 will be a major coming of age event. In 2015 I turn the big 40. It will officially begin my mid-life crisis era. I will have that eternal excuse for any bad impulsive decision I make after I turn 40. Yes, it may be just the year my true life of excitement begins and that of dullness ends.

Like many at the close of a year, I’ve reflected on the achievements I have had. I’ve help plant a church in Pakistan, met some phenomenal people, got elected to a position in my denomination’s connectional young adult ministry, and experienced a number of other accomplishments. I did experience some disappointments and circumstances that I wish could have been avoided or prevented but I have come out of them on the side of victory and gratefulness. 2014 was has been the year that I’ve had to learn that some relationships just have to come to an end. I’ve also learned the value of being disciplined in body and spirit even when I was resisting doing so.

One thing that I will not take into 2015 is an attitude of defeat. I will enter the next year with an ambitious attempt to gird my loins with the knowledge and strength of the ancestors and forge a path towards greater liberation. I will engage the fear, doubt, and anything else that may come my way in 2015. I’ve had plenty of time during 2014 to question my ministry and purpose and still have a bit of sanity left. That was the greatest challenge for me in 2014.

I have resolved that in 2015 I will be diligent and disciplined in the stewardship of my time, talents, and gifts. I will be diligent and disciplined in my self-care and care of others. I will preach the sermons that are empowering and liberating. I will write the articles, books, essays, and music that are in my heart to write. I will have positive expectations, expect good and receive it. I will be happy, safe, secure, prosperous, protected, and healthy. I will be proactive to not be in despair after disappointments, and take care to be a better guardian of my heart from which flows the issues of my life.

For this writer, another year year is dawning and it will be one like no other.

ARE BLACK PREACHERS IN REAL TROUBLE?

Following the high profile antics on Black Liberation Theology Pastor/Teacher Jeremiah Wright during the recent Presidential Campaign, and several other high profile black ministers falling into various problems financially, spiritually, and of course morally, I’ve been asking myself “Are black preachers in real trouble?” More and more black preachers are falling away from the root of the black church: social action, the preaching of the authentic gospel, and strong conservative family and political values.  I’m of the opinion that once we as black preachers got away from that, we got away from reality.

I’m sure that there will be plenty of people that would argue that what I said isnt the complete truth. I would probably agree that it isnt the complete truth because I certainly do not know the complete truth. I do however know what should be happening in the Black church. That is social, ecomonic, spiritual and moral liberation. Why isn’t that happening? THe answer is simple. Black preachers have always loved fame. We follow after fame more than we follow after God. That can be argued for Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, T.D. Jakes, and even myself.  Of course we would never state that publicly. That would all but destroy our public ministry. It is evident with the false gospel some of us preach, the preoccupation with personal wealth and prosperity, the less socially active we are (not in regards to marches, protests or things of that nature, but in matters concerning education, sexuality, and technology gaps). The black preacher has become a class of its own both materially and philosophically. As the spread of prosperity gospel overrides fundamental Christianity, many black preachers have set themselves up to fail.  That does not imply that all black preachers who proclaim that message from their pulpits are completely in error, it simply states that more younger black preachers are being seduced into this theology without fully comprehending the consequences of their actions. Myself included, have been duped into the popularity complex versus the authentic preacher complex. For the black church to remain authentic in its cause and mission and existence, the black preacher must return to that authenticity without fail and without flaw.

As the world encourages more diversity and cultural and moral tolerance, the black preacher cannot afford to fully do so without losing a great amount of his/her identity to the black church. That is to say that the more diverse we become as a church body, the more black preachers need to cling to the heritage, the message and the mission of the black church. The diverse world would not like for black preachers to continue preaching a theology of liberation but rather a message of tolerance and change and love of all humankind. That sounds good, but there is no real way for an authentic black preacher to preach that message without addressing the continual racial issues that still plague our world.

I return to the original question. Are black preachers in real trouble? Will the old regimen of black preachers with a prophetic voice in their world cease to exist once they are gone? Will young black preachers like myself who were trained by them, educated, and are attempting to be contemporary miss the mark and fall o step with the current trends and lose all that they left for us to continue in? I believe that we as black preachers, particular the younger ones are in very serious trouble. Its a trouble that’s not just a moral one, a theological one alone, but it is a trouble of the very existence of a culture and race centered around the black preacher and the black church experience.