Summary: A challenge to the faith community to early childhood education by having a fidelity to the cultural values of every child, by developing a fellowship that creates community for each child, and by furthering the advancement of a program that has proven it

Sermon Preached on Sunday, September 24, 2006

“Head Start the Right Start”

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Phil 1:3-11 (NLT)

One of the most misused phases in organizational development is “where there is no vision the people perish.” The reason why it is misused is that people are not able to differentiate a vision from a mirage. A mirage is an illusion. It appears to be grounded in reality but when you seek to put your hands on it, you find it has no substance. Its fool’s gold and when you get it you find out very quickly that all that glitters is not gold.

For example city leaders long ago had a vision of an east west expressway called Interstate 40. They displaced West Baltimore’s African American homeowner community, destroyed three churches, dug-up all the utilities and underground systems and today the highway goes nowhere. That was not a vision, but a mirage.

A true vision, on the other hand, is a God inspired perspective of the world as it should be. Its reality is grounded in God’s will. It promotes the best in the human spirit and its end is to create God’s beloved community.

When religious and political leaders came together to develop a national program for insuring that children and families regardless of income would have an early childhood experience that would equip for academic success as they continued their educational careers: that was not a mirage, but a vision.

Therefore, we can say with pride today: Head Start is the Right Start.

From a program perspective there are three purposes we must bind ourselves to:

1. Fidelity to the reality that every individual has value and that they are rooted in their culture. Education has been a cultural value of African American people since the beginning of time. We have sought academic excellence. We have fought for academic opportunity. Through education we have brought our creative energies to the improvement of the quality of life.

2. Fellowship that enhances families and creates positive space for human interaction. The quest for all humanity is to seek a place of peace. A place where the lion lays down with the lamb. There is something in the human spirit that seeks solitude, serenity and safety.

3. Furthering the right for each child to acquire the skills needed to function effectively in our society.

4. These three ideas are crucial to us insuring that Head Start is the Right Start.

These are the ideas we must be dedicated to: fidelity to the cultural value of every child; fellowship that creates community; and furthering a program that has proven its worth throughout the almost 40 years of its existence.

There should be no doubt that Head Start is the Right Start.

There is a threat to these ideas. We have government interests that place more value on rules, than relationship. They want performance measures and to insure compliance. Those rules have merit but they are quantitative in nature. Relationship which is far more important is qualitative. How do you measure a friendly smile in the morning? How do you measure a warm embrace? How do you measure love that seeks to help a child discover the God that is in them? How do you measure values being instilled in a child that will make them a more productive adult?

We are facing a governmental era where rules have more importance than relationship.

Thank God we have talented personnel and a dedicated child care board who are wise as serpents, but harmless as doves. Sometimes! They know who to work within the rules without displacing the value of relationships.

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